720 minutes of football is all that remains of the 2.Bundesliga season. 8 games and a possible 24 points to play for, and St. Pauli sit bottom of the league. You could be forgiven for thinking luck was firmly against St. Pauli, with 4 points dropped in the last 2 games through individual unexplained errors – summed up by Robin Himmelmann’s air-kick in the 89th minute of the game at Union Berlin last week.
Last week a glimmer of hope shone through the clouds though, as fellow relegation battlers Aalen were deducted 2 points due to ‘negative equity’ – a poor financial balance which is against the strict financial licensing conditions of the league. Normally i wouldn’t take happiness in another clubs downfall, but when in desperate need of some luck, it’s hard not to feel satisfied by the outcome.
The points deduction for Aalen leaves them in 16th place on 22 points, ahead of Aue in 17th and St. Pauli in 18th only on goal difference, and gives 1860 Munich a 4 point cushion from the relegation battle in 15th. Into the final 8 games we go, who will survive?
Of the 8 remaining games left, the lowest rank team St. Pauli have to face is Nurnburg – who sit 11th. This includes away trips to Kaiserslautern (2nd), Darmstadt (3rd) and Karlsruhe (4th). Kaiserslautern are unbeaten at home all season, and Darmstadt have only lost once at home. If you’re looking to this article for some optimism, i apologise. With only 1 away win all season, there’s hardly room to go into those away games with confidence.
While St. Pauli only facing 1 team in the bottom half of the table, Aue face four teams in the lower half of the table in the last 8 games. However since wins against ** ******* and Fortuna Dusseldorf immediately after the winter break, Aue have failed to win any of their last 5 games. A defeat away at 1860 Munich on Sunday would almost definitely leave the relegation battle a 3 horse place. But Aue then have winnable home matches against Sandhausen and FSV Frankfurt that provide good opportunities to gain points in their bid for survival.
Having picked up a win against Aue and picked up a point each against Greuther Furth and 1860 Munich before the winter break, Aalen would have been feeling rather positive about their chances of survival prior to the international break. But how much of a psychological blow will the 2 point deduction be? It could actually work in their favour if it brings the squad close together and provides them with even more motivation to beat the drop. Only time will tell, starting with a home game against Karlsruhe on Sunday. Karlsruhe sit 4th in the league and are the best away team in the division. Aalen also have to play Fortuna Dusseldorf (5th) and Eintracht Braunschweig (6th), but crucially they don’t play anyone in the top 3, and play several teams sitting mid-table who may not have anything to play for in the coming weeks.
The only predictability about the remaining 8 matches is simply that it isn’t predictable. If football was based entirely on league positions and form, then bookmakers would be out of business and we might as well all pack up and go home. That said, the odds are firmly stacked against St. Pauli. If we go down, let’s go down fighting.