Werder Bremen extended their 39-year stay in the Bundesliga for at least another 10 days on Saturday, when they thumped Cologne 6-1 to avoid automatic relegation.
The four-times Bundesliga champions completed the first half of what could become a great escape as they climbed out of the drop zone and leapfrogged Fortuna Duesseldorf to finish 16th in the 18-team table.
They now face a two-leg playoff against the team that finishes third in the second division — Heidenheim or Hamburg SV — on July 2 and 6. Fortuna lost 3-0 at Union and were relegated.
Recent history is on Werder’s side as the playoff has been won by the team from the top flight eight times in the last ten seasons.