After the opening 16 matches of the 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign, it’s Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen side who lead the way, but at the other end of the standings, there’s plenty of sides who face the prospect of relegation come the end of the season.
As the German top-flight resumes following its usual winter break, it’s Darmstadt and Cologne that currently occupy the bottom two spots with Mainz sitting just ahead of the pair in the relegation play-off position. Union Berlin sit only a further three points ahead of the trio, having found the season after their miracle fourth-place finish to be a classic post-overachievement ‘hangover'.
But with half a season still left to go, nothing is certain as of yet. Several other sides – including Bochum, Borussia Monchengladbach and Werder Bremen – are also nervously looking over their shoulders. Our free betting tips will guide you through their individual matches, but for now, here's how we see the 2023/24 Bundesliga relegation battle shaping up.
Bundesliga relegation odds and tips – Latest news
Union Berlin boost survival hopes in winter surge
After falling to a 16-match winless run across all competitions which subsequently saw former manager Urs Fischer sacked, Union Berlin have since won two of their last three Bundesliga outings as they look to avoid relegation this campaign, with the new manager bounce once again manifesting at the east Berlin club.
Their last victory – a 2-0 success over fellow relegation-threatened Cologne – proved to be especially important. And with their European campaign coming to an end at the Champions League group stage, they should begin to rediscover their strong form that saw them finish in fourth position in the German top-flight last season.
Werder Bremen slipping towards danger
Two of Germany’s most famous sides are beginning to nervously look over their shoulders heading into the second half of the season as Werder Bremen and Borussia Monchengladbach both continue to struggle.
Werder have only just begun to rebuild following a recent top-flight promotion, but after winning just one of their prior five league outings, they return to Bundesliga action sat just six points clear of the bottom three. The departure of last season's joint-top Bundesliga scorer Niclas Fullkrug remains a sore point.
Bundesliga relegation battle odds and tips – Current outrights
Darmstadt – 2/9
After being promoted from 2. Bundesliga last season after finishing in second spot, it’s hardly gone well for Darmstadt, as they begin the second half of the 2023/24 season sitting rock bottom of the standings.
Taking just 10 points from their opening 16 matches, the side from the state of Hesse have tasted victory just twice this term and as such, they’re now the bookmakers favorites to be relegated at 2/9. With a -21 goal difference, it’s not too difficult to see why that is, and they’ll need to make some big moves – at least by their standards – during the January transfer window in order to escape danger.
Mainz – 6/4
Also sat on ten points after 16 Bundesliga matches, Mainz managed to jump up to the relegation play-off spot during the last matchday before the annual winter break, after securing an impressive 1-1 draw away to Borussia Dortmund.
The fact remains, however, that the side who play out of MEWA Arena have still stuttered to their second-worst ever start to a Bundesliga campaign to this point and are just 6/4 to face the drop. As such, they remain a likely option when talking about who will finish in the bottom two spots this term.
Cologne – 6/4
As well as Mainz, Cologne also made the decision to part ways with their manager just prior to the winter break, as Steffen Baumgart left the club second-bottom of the standings.
Heading into the second half of the campaign, the Billy Goats are 6/4 to be relegated for the first time since the 2017/18 season, and with a transfer ban currently in effect at the club, they could struggle to pull themselves clear of danger over the next 16 matches.
How does the Bundesliga relegation playoff work?
In the Bundesliga, the bottom two sides are automatically relegated to the second tier but unlike some of Europe’s other leagues, the side who finish third bottom of the standings have to take part in a relegation play-off.
In Germany, that consists of a two-legged match facing the side who finish third in 2. Bundesliga in the same campaign. As of last season, only three sides have ever been promoted via the promotion play-off from the country’s second division since the current system came into place in 2008/2009 – 1.FC Nürnberg in 2009, Fortuna Düsseldorf in 2012 and, the latest club, Union Berlin in 2019.
That provides something of a safety net for the troubled teams we've mentioned, though the start of AFCON 2023 is also a complicating factor.