Race heats up for Bundesliga's European, UEFA League slots

Sports Wednesday 15/May/2019 16:30 PM
By: Times News Service
Race heats up for Bundesliga's European, UEFA League slots

Berlin: While the nail-biting title duel between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund might dominate the headlines, the race for the Bundesliga's fourth and final UEFA Champions League spot and the two Europa League slots continues to be the source of much excitement among German football fans.
Approaching the 34th and final round of matches in the 2018/19 Bundesliga, Borussia Monchengladbach (55 points), Bayer Leverkusen (55 points), Eintracht Frankfurt (54 points) and VfL Wolfsburg (52 points) are battling it out for the final Champions League place, while TSG Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen are still eying Europa League qualification.
The fiercely-contested prize not only carries an increase in international reputation but perhaps, more importantly, a financial windfall that can help secure a brighter future.
The top three teams of Bayern, Dortmund and RB Leipzig can already count on receiving 15.25 million euros in advance of the 2019/20 group stages of Europe's most valuable club competition.
In the 2017/18 season, Bayern Munich earned around 100 million euros after reaching the semifinals of that year's Champions League, as UEFA also pays out 1.5 million euro for a victory and 500,000 for a draw.
Qualification for the Champions League is also a big draw for attracting players to join a club, with Bayer Leverkusen attacker Julian Brandt said to be high on Dortmund's summer shopping list.
The German international has said that playing in the Champions League is important for his career, and therefore a decisive factor regarding his decision on which club to play for. "To be honest, this is something I have to consider when thinking about next season," the 23-year-old commented.
Meanwhile, Frankfurt have been one of the surprises of the season, with the previously unheralded side having reached the semifinals of the Europa League, narrowly losing on penalties to Premier League giants Chelsea.
But with the season's finish line in sight, there are questions over whether the squad has reached its limit after an energy-sapping year. Fail to perform in their last match away at Bayern Munich, and Adi Hutter's side is in danger of gambling away their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League and even the Europa League.
Frankfurt's recent dip in form is symptomatic of smaller clubs who find themselves in European competition, with a small squad of players unable to cope with the rigours of playing two games a week.
Frankfurt's European heroics came as the club steadily lost ground in the Bundesliga, and failure to qualify for continental football next season would represent a significant setback in their attempt to close the gap to the bigger sides.