Darmstadt and Ingolstadt are down, but which two clubs will be playing Bundesliga football in their stead next term and who will be fighting out to join them in the promotion/ relegation play-offs?

bundesliga.com takes a look at the current state of affairs in the second tier and examines the credentials of those clubs vying for a place in the big league next term.

VfB Stuttgart (1st, Pld 33, Pts 66)

Simon Terodde (r.) and Carlos Mane (c.) have made vital contributions to Stuttgart's season so far. © gettyimages / Stuart Franklin

VfB were relegated for only the second time in their history last season – the first since 1975 – but they have consolidated and come back stronger this term in a bid to ensure only a brief absence from the Bundesliga. Hannes Wolf stepped in following Jos Luhukay's resignation just a few months into the season and the Swabians have gradually risen to the top of the standings. Stuttgart missed the chance to seal automatic promotion after losing to second-placed Hannover on Matchday 33, but remain in pole position to return to the Bundesliga promised land thanks to their vastly superior goal difference. Only a mammoth collapse against second-bottom Würzburger Kickers can stop them now.

Star Player: Simon Terodde

Their promotion push has been spearheaded by the veteran striker Simon Terodde. Top scorer in the second tier with Bochum in 2015/16, the 29-year-old again leads the charts with 23 goals from 31 games. Portuguese talent Carlos Mane has also chipped in with six goals and nine assists.

Click here for the Bundesliga 2 scoring charts.

Hannover 96 (2nd, Pld 33, Pts 66)

ith 17 goals, Martin Harnik (2nd r.) has helped Hannover's bid for an immediate return to the top flight. © gettyimages / Stuart Franklin

Hannover were a staple in the Bundesliga up until last May, when their 14-year stay came to an end. The Reds finished bottom, but since their fate was sealed with three games to go, they soon set about planning for an immediate return. Even the best-laid plans provide no guarantees, however, and Daniel Stendel, the man designated to lead them back up, only lasted until March. In came Hannover native Andre Breitenreiter, a former coach of Paderborn and Schalke in the Bundesliga, and six wins and two draws from their eight games since have Hannover on the cusp of an immediate return to the top tier - possibly as Bundesliga 2 champions. The Reds travel to mid-table Sandhausen on the final day.

Star Player: Martin Harnik

The undoubted star of Hannover's campaign has been 29-year-old Martin Harnik, who has scored 17 goals in 30 appearances in a bid to return to the league where he has already played close to 200 matches.

Eintracht Braunschweig (3rd, Pld 33, Pts 63)

Just like in their last promotion season, Domi Kumbela (l. bottom) is sustaining Braunschweig's promotion push. © gettyimages / Thomas Starke

Braunschweig were also dining at the top table of German football not too long ago, spending just one ill-fated season there in 2013/14. They were one of the Bundesliga's founding members and a top-flight team for 20 of its first 22 seasons, winning the league in 1967 and reaching the quarter-finals of the European Cup a year later. Two top-ten Bundesliga 2 campaigns since their most recent relegation have seen the club restore stability and a nine-game unbeaten streak, ended on Matchday 29 by local rivals Hannover, has seen them muscle their way back into contention for what would be their fourth promotion to the Bundesliga – their second under Torsten Lieberknecht, who is heading into his tenth year at the helm. A calamitous 6-0 reverse away to relegation-fighting Bielefeld on the penultimate weekend, however, means the Lions will most likely have to do it the hard way - via the the play-offs.

Star Player: Domi Kumbela

Domi Kumbela netted 19 goals to fire the Lions to promotion back in 2012/13 and his 12 goals make him the club's leading scorer this term, while Swedish Christoffer Nyman has pitched in with 11. Skipper Ken Reichel has found the net seven times, while Onel Hernandez has contributed five.