With 14 points from 8 games in the second half of the season, St. Pauli have lifted themselves out of the relegation zone into 15th. St. Pauli have had a remarkable transformation, and the stats comparing the first 17 games of the season with the 8 games since make fascinating reading. 13 goals scored in 8, compared to 11 in 17. 4 wins as opposed to 2, and a goal difference of +7 rather than -13. St. Pauli are 4th in the Rückrunde table, but despite that they are still only 4 points off Karlsruhe who sit bottom. Aue (10 points) and Bielefeld (9 points) have both had decent points returns since the winter break as they bid to fight off relegation.
After the international break comes ‘English week’, a series of 3 games in a week that will prove pivotal in the fight against relegation. No game will be more important than St. Pauli’s trip to Aue (15th) a week today, which is followed up with a home tie against Sandhausen (9th) on Tuesday week before a trip to Nuernberg (10th).
Another vital game then comes a week later, as St. Pauli welcome league newcomers Wuerzburger Kickers to the Millerntor. The away side had ended the first half of the season in 6th place, but now find themselves in 12th having only collected 2 points in their last 8 games, and now only 4 points ahead of St. Pauli. If that run continues much longer, they could be dragged into an unthinkable relegation battle.
The final 5 games pit St. Pauli against teams who may have very little to play for in the final weeks. Dusseldorf (8th) away on the 21/4 will be a good opportunity to pick up points against one of the worst home teams in the league, followed by Heidenheim (7th) who have only won once in the second half of the season. Another Friday night game against Kaiserslauten then awaits, with the home side only one place and 3 points ahead of St. Pauli, and themselves getting drawn into the relegation battle due to the form of the teams below them.
The final home game of the season welcomes Greuther Fürth (6th) to the Millerntor, before the away trip to Bochum (11th) on the final day of the season. It’s a run of games that isn’t impossible, and St. Pauli have a good chance of escaping the relegation fight long before the trip to Bochum on the last day of the season.
So who is going to struggle? Karlsruhe are rock bottom on 21 points, and have 5 defeats in their last 8 games. Their last 3 games are away trips to Fürth and Braunschweig, sandwiched between a home tie against Dynamo Dresden. Unless their form picks up sharpish, they have got to be favourites to go down.
Aue have a difficult English week, visiting table-toppers Union Berlin and then welcoming fellow strugglers 1860 Munich, who have managed to pull themselves away from immediate danger with 12 points in their last 8 games but are still sat in 13th and not out of trouble yet. Aue also have to play Stuttgart (2nd) and Hannover (4th). If Aue are to survive, then their games against St. Pauli, 1860 Munich and Wuerzburger Kickers could be vital.
Arminia Bielefeld also have a similarly difficult run-in, but their games against Stuttgart and Braunschweig are both at home which could be vital. They finish the season with an incredibly difficult trip to Dynamo Dresden, who have lost only 2 of their 13 home games this season. Particularly difficult when Bielefeld haven’t won away all season. (3 draws, 9 defeats).
Kaiserslautern have been invited into the relegation party after not winning any of their last four games, including a 2-0 in Bielefeld last time out. They welcome Braunschweig next, and have to visit Union Berlin in mid-April. However they’ve also got to play the teams below them, which could be key to their survival. They play Karlsruhe, St. Pauli and Aue in the space of three weeks that could either pull them away from the bottom or drag them deep into trouble.
1860 Munich have looked much better since the winter break, and although they also have to face Stuttgart and Braunschweig in the run-in, before games are at home.
English week is likely to be make-or-break for Wuerzburger Kickers, who could drop into the relegation places if their dramatic slump in form continues. They welcome Bielefeld before visiting Karlsruhe, and negative results in those games could be devastating before the end the week with a home game against Hannover. They’ve also got to face St. Pauli and Aue, before finishing the season in Stuttgart, who could need the 3 points to secure promotion to the Bundesliga.
With all that said, and St. Pauli seemingly in a good position, unfortunately football doesn’t run to form and the relegation battle will definitely have many twists and turns in the coming weeks.