The 2. Bundesliga is incredibly unpredictable. A league that we have all come to love for this reason. The promotion pushes to go down to the wire, the relegations of air combat, as well. It always offers exciting entertainment. At the end of the season, one team usually dominates the tree and leads the field of 6-8 fighting prospects below. This year VfL Bochum have stepped up and are set to return to the Bundesliga.
Once a Bundesliga regular, now yearning for his long-awaited return to the German top flight. Bochum’s victory over the other challengers of the Heidenheim promotion saw the Ruhrgebiet team gain 11 points from fourth place at Fortuna Düsseldorf. A play-off in the Bundesliga Relegation is increasingly becoming their worst possible result. Thomas Reis has built a solid squad in two and a half seasons with a clear main goal, a return to the top flight.
The resurgence hasn’t happened just this season. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Bochum was languishing in a relegation fight. 15th position and questions asked. Only in Fashion 2. Bundesliga though, would they scratch an unbeaten 11-game run to end up in eighth place. There was something to build on for the coming season.
Bochum has done little business in the upcoming transfer window in the 2020/21 season. Gerrit Holtmann (Mainz 05) and Herbert Bochhorn (Huddersfield Town), their main acquisitions. Nonetheless, a strong 2. Liga side with plenty of tips with the illustrious black horse label Arminia Bielefeld had the year before.
But where did everything go for the Die Unabsteigbaren (the irreversible ones)? Goals, mainly. Ten times we’ve seen Bochum score three or more goals in a game. Former 1. FC Köln striker Simon Zoller (16) and attacking midfielder Robert Žulj (13) have together almost 30 goals this season. The two stand alone in contention for the 2. Bundesliga player of the season.
A team that likes to score goals but also a team that builds young gems around experienced pros. A formula that has proven itself at this level, again making reference to Arminia’s victorious season the previous year. German center-back Maxim Leitsch (22) and much-loved Armel Bella Kotchap (19) exceeded their expectations a little more by being crucial cogs in the mission to see the promotion come out. Bochum is also becoming one of the best defensive teams in the league this campaign. With veteran Danilo Santos and Christian Gamboa on either side and Anthony Losilla and Robert Tesche seated in front. Adding arguably the best goalkeeper in league regularity when it comes to Manuel Riemann and Reis has created a successful formula for allowing his forwards free goals reign and control possession. Danny Blum’s contribution is also worth mentioning.
As mentioned before, it’s an exciting league with a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns and as we move into the final games. Just ask Hamburger SV what it’s like to finish a 2. Liga campaign when it looks like you’re on top. Four favorable matches stand between Bochum and their long-awaited return to the Bundesliga. Darmstadt, Jahn Regensburg, Nürnberg and Sandhausen. Four teams in the bottom half of the table, although there is still a long way to go.
Schalke 04’s confirmed relegation leaves room for Borussia Dortmund to have a neighborhood rivalry next year. Only 20 km separate the industrial towns of the Ruhr. The 2003/04 season was the last time Bochum was the kings of the Ruhrgebiet after their fifth place in the Bundesliga. With Schalke gone, Bochum is once again the great dog in the area, if they meet their promotion goals.
It has been 11 years for the faithful of Bochum. Promotion is in sight and VfL Bochum surely has one foot further in the promotion race.