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Germany: Who is promoted, relegated and in the playoffs?



The Bundesliga had something that has never happened in its history occur in the 2023/24 season. Bayer Leverkusen, long ridiculed as Bayer ‘Neverkusen,’ finally won the German top flight. It is the side’s first Bundesliga triumph, and it ended 11 years of Bayern Munich’s dominance in Germany. While Xabi Alonso’s incredible leadership of Leverkusen has taken the plaudits, the rest of the Bundesliga remains vastly entertaining.

Consistently with one of the top relegation battles in Europe, the German division did not disappoint. Moreover, that extends throughout the top divisions in the country. Only one club in the top flight has suffered a confirmed relegation: Darmstadt. Yet, that makes the last two games of the campaign all the more important. Here is how promotion and relegation look across the top divisions in Germany, including those beneath the Bundesliga.

The Bundesliga and select games in the 2. Bundesliga are available on ESPN+.

Germany: Breaking down promotion and relegation in 2023/24

  • Champion: Bayer Leverkusen
  • Relegated: Darmstadt
  • Trying to avoid relegation: Koln, Mainz, Union Berlin, Bochum, Monchengladbach

Only Darmstadt 98, which came up from the second tier after last season, is going down after this campaign thus far. However, FC Koln is on the verge of suffering the same fate. With two games remaining, Koln is five points behind Mainz, who is in 16th. The bottom two clubs in the Bundesliga suffer automatic relegation.

The team finishing 16th enters a two-game playoff against the third-place team from the 2. Bundesliga. As things stand, Bochum and Borussia Monchengladbach are four points ahead of Mainz. Therefore, a win on matchday 33 would guarantee both clubs’ safeties. Likewise, a Mainz loss keeps both those clubs up. Union Berlin, which competed in the UEFA Champions League this season, is not as secure. It is just one point ahead of Mainz. The only way for Union Berlin to ensure safety before the last matchday is to win against Koln in Matchday 33 and have Mainz lose against Borussia Dortmund. Both are certainly within the realm of possibility. However, it could easily go down to the last matchday in the Bundesliga.

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2. Bundesliga
  • Promotion contention: Holstein Kiel, FC St. Pauli, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  • Playoff contention: Hamburger SV
  • Relegated: VfL Osnabruck
  • Relegation contention: Hansa Rostock, Wehen Wiesbaden, Eintracht Braunschweig, Kaiserslautern, Nurnberg, FC Magdeburg

At the top of the table, four teams are vying for two automatic promotion spots and one playoff spot. Holstein Kiel and St. Pauli are on the verge of securing a place in next season’s Bundesliga as they have five- and four-point lead on Dusseldorf. Matching or besting Dusseldorf’s result in the next matchday will be enough to get into the Bundesliga. Hamburg is four points back of Dusseldorf in fourth, meaning it needs the team in third to drop points and Hamburg must win its games against Paderborn and relegation candidate Nurnberg to reach the promotion playoffs for the top flight in Germany.

The relegation picture is not as clear. A handful of teams are mathematically in the relegation picture, including massive clubs like Kaiserslautern. The team most under pressure is Hansa Rostock, one point off the relegation playoffs and four off automatic safety. However, it has a far worse goal differential than the teams sitting in 16th and 15th in the 2 Bundesliga table.

3. Liga
  • Promoted: SSV Ulm
  • Promotion contention: Preussen Munster, Jahn Regensburg, Rot-Weiss Essen
  • Relegation contention: Hallescher FC, Waldhof Manneheim, Arminia Bielefeld, 1860 Munich
  • Relegated: SC Freiburg II, VfB Lubeck, MSV Duisburg

Ulm is going to play its ninth season in the 2. Bundesliga after earning promotion as the champions of the third tier. There are a host of clubs looking to be the second team promoted or the representative in the promotion playoffs. Preussen Munster is the favorite to claim second, as it currently occupies that spot. Yet, it is one of five teams that could go up this season along with Ulm.

Three of the four teams to go down are confirmed this season. However, looking at the potential other teams that could go down, there are major names. Duisburg, a founding member of the Bundesliga, is one of those confirmed for dropping to the fourth tier. 1860 Munich is also in the running to go down, and it was another one of the Bundesliga’s first members. Arminia Bielefeld, if it takes that fourth spot, would suffer back-to-back-to-back relegations after playing in the Bundesliga for two seasons.



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