Only eight rounds of Bundesliga fixtures are left in the 2021/22 campaign as we take a look at the teams that are likely to secure European football for next season.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are seemingly waltzing away with a top-two finish that will guarantee a place in next season’s Champions League group stages.
For fans that love watching the Bundesliga live, that leaves four sides with virtually equal chances of locking up the remaining two Champions League qualification spots, with places in the Europa League and Europa Conference League also open for the taking.
Champions League Race
It is now a near-certainty that Bayern and Dortmund will be featuring in the 2022/23 Champions League group stages as they are already full steam ahead of the competition.
The Bavarians sit atop the Bundesliga table with 60 points after 26 matches, seven clear of second-placed Borussia, who have a game in hand.
With the coveted third and fourth spots waiting for their owners, Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig, Freiburg and TSG Hoffenheim are set for an intriguing four-way race.
Third-placed Leverkusen have amassed 45 points thus far, only one more than Hoffenheim, who are sixth, albeit level on points with Leipzig and Freiburg.
Among the four sides embroiled in this keenly-contested race, Die Werkself are having the most challenging time after winning just once in their last four league matches (D1, L2).
Leipzig and Hoffenheim have each won four of their last five Bundesliga outings, with Freiburg landing three wins and a couple of draws in the same spread of fixtures.
Additionally, Leverkusen and Die Roten Bullen are still engaged in European battles, which could serve as a distraction heading into the season finale.
Following UEFA’s decision to ban Russian clubs from European competition, Leipzig have earned an automatic berth in the Europa League quarter-finals at the expense of Spartak Moscow.
Meanwhile, Bayer’s chances of joining Domenico Tedesco’s side in the last eight are hanging by a thread following a 3-2 first-leg defeat away to Atalanta.
So Freiburg and Hoffenheim could benefit from the duo’s upcoming continental commitments as they look to capitalise on impressive domestic campaigns, respectively.
However, we back Leverkusen and Leipzig to see off the competition and cling on to their current positions in the standings.
Europa League Race
Since the sides securing fifth and sixth finishes in the Bundesliga table gain access to the Europa League group stages, Freiburg and Hoffenheim are in a prime position to reach Europe’s second-tier competition next season.
However, Bundesliga may have another club featuring in the Europa League next term, as the DFB Cup winners also earn progression into the competition’s group phase.
With Freiburg and Leipzig both qualifying for the DFB Cup semi-finals, another side could get an opportunity to appear in the Europa League next year should any of the two conquer the tournament.
That could be music to Koln’s ears, as they currently languish in seventh, five points adrift of Hoffenheim.
But watch out for eight-placed Union Berlin, who will entertain Leipzig in an all-Bundesliga DFB Cup semi-final tie.
Union’s potential triumph in the cup competition would send them into the second qualifying round of the Europa League, handing the side finishing sixth an automatic group phase berth.