Written off from the first minute and still expected to be certainties to be relegated, Eintracht Braunshweig can still stage the most unlikely of rescue missions. It’s not because they’ve been far from other teams this season or because they’ve occupied the drop-zone since Week 3, it’s because no-one gave them a chance.
Ten weeks ago, the club had picked up just 12 points all season and five points off of even a relegation play-off place. Fast forward nine games and they have more than doubled their tally to 25 and sit just two points from complete safety in the German top division, even that at this stage is considered.
They closed the gap this weekend with probably their best performance and result, a 3-0 home win in the Lower Saxony derby against Hannover. It’s a result that the team and fans craved that has also pulled every other team closer to them with just five games to go.
Before the season had even begun, some thought that Braunschweig would have almost have the worst Bundesliga season on record but so far, they’ve hung in there and produced some quality results. Wins against Wolfsburg and Leverkusen have been highlights but a run of just one loss in their last seven have given them the chance at survival.
You can tell where the doubters have sprung from, Braunschweig were a surprise package in the 2. Bundesliga last season and had limited funds to improve their squad to the lofty standards of the Bundesliga. They’ve also struggled to score goals, partly with Domi Kumbela injured then out-of-sorts and they got so desperate they had Simeon Jackson up front in the first half of the season.
How dramatically that has changed for them though, with 17 of their 28 goals this season coming in their last nine games, an incredible turn of fortunes. They are still struggling to keep sides out at the other end but they are now beginning to keep themselves in games, which is winning them points and admirers.
There is such a great incentive to stay in the top division in any country, the monetary gain alone is good enough but the pride of the fans to be part of the best football that their nation can offer is unsurpassed. Even more incredible, if they managed to remain in the division and a side the size of Hamburg went down for the first time in their history, it would be a monumental achievement.
And with the five remaining games, there are chances to be had within them. A home game against Augsburg and away ties against Hertha Berlin and Hoffenheim should present chances facing teams that have only pride to play for. A bout against Bayern Munich might be asking too much but they have already sealed the league, only the game against Freiburg presents a real threat but a win there could really shift the tide.
Relegation-threatened sides should take notes from Eintracht Braunshweig this season. With little in terms of a budget and a terrible first half of the season, they still stood by Torsten Lieberknecht which could prove to be a stroke of genius. But even if he can’t give Braunschweig a second season in the Bundesliga, his side have won many fans for their sheer desire to prove the many doubters wrong.