When Hamburg was relegated at the end of last season it was the first time in their history. The famous old club had been an ever present in the Bundesliga in Germany and even had a clock to show exactly how long it had been in the top flight.

But the former European Cup winners had been flirting with the drop for a number of seasons and although many fans of opposing clubs took great satisfaction in Hamburg’s relegation, it did not come as a surprise in the end.

FC Koln was the other side that dropped down into Bundesliga 2 and – given their participation in the Europa League last season – it was thought that the second tier would be a foregone conclusion this season. Those two clubs would bounce straight back up and everything would be back to normal. It hasn’t been quite that straight forward.

Although those two are doing well this season there are a number of other clubs that are making this season’s promotion race one of the most exciting in recent history. Union Berlin, Heidenhelm, Paderborn, St Pauli and even Holstein Kiel can all legitimately be considered as promotion hopefuls and it looks like this battle could go on until the very last day of the season.

I’m going to take a look at all the teams involved and see who is most likely to go up – and whether there are any betting markets to keep an eye out for.

Soccer Latest Bundesliga 2 Odds

With just over two thirds of the season already gone there is still a large group of clubs battling for the two automatic promotion spots – and the extra play off place. Here are the latest odds, courtesy of William Hill, for Bundesliga 2 champion.

Teams Odds
Hamburg 2.25
Koln 2.25
Union Berlin 9.00
St Pauli 21.00
Heidenhelm 26.00
Paderborn 26.00
Holstein Kiel 51.00

The first thing to notice is that the bookmakers are not able to split Hamburg or Koln for the Bundesliga 2 title. These two were the big favorites before the season started but have not pulled away as expected – meaning that there is still a lot to play for.

The chasing pack are not that far behind either. If Union Berlin wins its game at home to Arminia on Friday it will leapfrog Koln into second in the table – and Heidenhelm could push the relegated club down to fourth if they win their game as well.

That is why I don’t think there is a great amount of value in taking either Hamburg or Koln at 2.25 to win the league. The current leaders still need to play away at Koln – as well as Union Berlin, Paderborn, St Pauli and a tricky game at Bochum – before the end of the season so there is a lot that can change between now and the 19th May.

Soccer Favorites for the Title

Hamburg and Koln are the two obvious choices for the two promotion spots but either could fall away towards the end of the season if they are not careful.

Hamburg surprised some fans when they sacked their coach ten games into this campaign when they were fifth (but only two points behind the then leaders Koln) but the club has been chaotically run for a while now and there is little than can really shock their fans any more.

The famous club from the north of Germany had started to cement their position at the top of the table but has now lost two of its last three games and blown the promotion race wide open again.

FC Koln has been around the top of the league throughout the season but has been unable to find consistent form and has looked vulnerable against most of its promotion rivals.

Other Clubs in Contention

Although it is difficult to find bookmakers offering odds for promotion to the Bundesliga, Tipico does have a very interesting market in which Hamburg and Koln are obviously favored but some of the other clubs in the hunt attract some pretty good value.

Here are the prices for promotion (not including Hamburg and Koln).

Teams Odds
Union Berlin 2.15
Paderborn 4.00
Heidenhelm  7.00
Holstein Kiel 8.00
St Pauli 8.00

Out of these five clubs, Holstein Kiel actually made it to the play offs last season and was only denied a place in this season’s Bundesliga by Wolfsburg. I’m not sure whether these minnows can replicate that form again this season but the prices for both Paderborn and Heidenhelm are interesting.

Union Berlin is showing great form this season however and it wasn’t until just before Christmas that they lost its first game. The amount of draws could become a negative factor – it has finished all square in 10 if its 22 games this season – but the club from the capital has to be included as serious contenders for promotion. It has never graced the top flight since German unification in 1990 but its passionate support would be a great asset to the Bundesliga.

St Pauli is the other club with recent experience of the top flight and would love nothing more than squeaking past city rivals Hamburg to make it into the Bundesliga. St Pauli has lost more games than any of the other teams mentioned however and although it has won against its promotion rivals it has also looked weak – especially away from home.

Soccer Promotion Play Off Chance

Although there are only two promotion spots up for grabs in Bundesliga 2, the third placed side at the end of the season does qualify for a two-legged play off tie. If the top flight club wins the tie it stays in the Bundesliga.

It may be an extra chance for a Bundesliga 2 club to earn promotion but no second tier team has been successful since Fortuna Dusseldorf beat Hertha Berlin over two legs in 2012. Hamburg was actually involved in two successive play off ties in 2014 and 2015 but history does not favor the lower league club.

With that in mind it would seem that making it to the top two spots in Bundesliga 2 should be an absolute priority – and although the race is very tight at the moment I think it will be between Hamburg, Koln and Union Berlin at the end of the season.

Soccer My Pick

Given that it is the biggest club in the second tier I think Hamburg will be successful in its attempt to return to the Bundesliga. The club may be run in a strange and confusing manner but it still has the financial muscle to see it safely back in the top flight – at least for one season.

But the best value pick for me is Union Berlin to join Hamburg in the Bundesliga next season. The fact that Union has conceded the fewest goals in the entire division is proof that it can keep its rivals at bay. Berlin’s second club may not have scored the same amount of goals as Paderborn and Koln – who average around 2.5 per game – but it will be their defense that will bring it success.

My Pick: Union Berlin to be Promoted 2.15

Place Your Bet Here

Soccer Final Words

German football is rightly lauded as some of the best in Europe – but most of the attention falls on the Bundesliga. But with enough clubs in the second tier having some experience of the top flight in recent seasons it has made for a very competitive division.

This has been an excellent season ion Bundesliga 2 so far – and the race for promotion will only get more exciting over the next few months.

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