Schalke-Bremen and Dortmund-Wolfsburg are among this week's matches to watch...
15:30 Bayer Leverkusen – Hertha Berlin
15:30 Bayern Munich – Bochum
15:30 Borussia Dortmund –Wolfsburg
15:30 Eintracht Frankfurt – Hoffenheim
15:30 Koeln – Freiburg
15:30 Hamburg – Nuernberg
15:30 Hannover – Borussia M’gladbach
15:30 Schalke – Werder Bremen
15:30 Stuttgart – Mainz
Bayer Leverkusen – Hertha Berlin
Winter champions Leverkusen have had a rough spring campaign, but remain in the hunt for a third place finish, and with it a return to the Champions League. Jupp Heynckes’ side will need to win their remaining fixtures, and will likely have to do so without Renato Augusto and Simon Rolfes, who are both recovering from injuries. Both midfielders have been ruled out of the Hertha match, and may also miss out on the final matchday of the season.
Hertha suffered a bitter defeat to Schalke last week, falling 1-0 in the closing minutes. Now all but mathematically relegated, the capital club have little to play for other than pride. Coach Friedhelm Funkel will have to do without suspended midfielder Levan Kobiaschvili, as well as unfit duo Florian Kringe and Roman Hubnik.
Bayern Munich – Bochum
League leaders Bayern Munich pummelled Lyon on Tuesday, earning their first trip to the Champions League final since 2001. The Bavarians now have two weeks to concentrate on domestic play before their highly anticipated final with Inter. Following a few injury scares, Louis van Gaal’s side are back to full strength, although Diego Contento may retain his left-back role, relegating Daniel van Buyten to the bench.
Currently well on their way to relegation, Bochum resorted to desperate measures this week, and sacked coach Heiko Herrlich. The struggling side, once known as the “unrelegatables”, need at least a point from their upcoming match, and will be fighting for their lives. Interim coach Dariusz Wosz may make tactical changes to Herrlich’s preferred line-up, but has only ruled out injured midfielder Christoph Dabrowski.
Borussia Dortmund – Wolfsburg
Currently just a point behind Bremen and Leverkusen, Dortmund are closing in on their long-awaited return to Champions League play. The 1997 European Cup winners have been in excellent form as of late, but will need to win their last two matches in order to have a chance of taking third place. Coach Juergen Klopp will have to do without Sven Bender, Sebastian Kehl and Mohamed Zidan, all of whom are recovering from injuries.
Following consecutive losses to Bremen and Freiburg, defending Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg are all but out of the hunt for a return to European competition. Several stars who have been linked with moves abroad, amongst them Edin Dzeko and Zvjezdan Misimovic, will nonetheless look to impress potential suitors on Saturday. Coach Lorenz-Guenther Koestner will have virtually full squad to choose from, with the only exception being suspended midfielder Josue.
Eintracht Frankfurt – Hoffenheim
Frankfurt were disappointing as them blew an early 2-0 lead over Mainz last weekend, and had to settle for a draw. Michael Skibbe’s side have performed very well this year, especially in recent months, and will look to finish the season on a high note. Skibbe will have to do without a long list of injured players, including Caio, Aleksandar Vasoski, Zlatan Bajramovic, Marco Russ, Christoph Spycher and Marcel Titsch-Rivero.
Hoffenheim earned what was easily their biggest win of the year last weekend, a 5-1 thumping of Hamburg. Several stars, including Carlos Eduardo, may be looking to make moves away from Sinsheim this summer, and accordingly, have more to play for than may be expected. Unfortunately, Ralf Rangnick will be unable to select Matthias Jaissle, Demba Ba, Per Nilsson, Andreas Ibertsberger, Timo Hildebrand or Kevin Conrad, all of whom have suffered various injuries.
Koeln – Freiburg
Koeln were seconds away from securing a scoreless draw with Bremen last week, but were undone as Torsten Frings converted a late penalty. The spot-kick was awarded due to a deliberate handball by Pedro Geromel, who will miss out on this week’s action. In addition to the Brazilian defender, Christopher Schorch, Pierre Wome and Manasseh Ishiaku, all of whom are injured, are unavailable to feature in Zvonimir Soldo’s squad.
Freiburg made huge strides towards avoiding relegation with last week’s well-earned 1-0 win over Wolfsburg. With just two games to go, the promoted side are very close to securing a spot in next year's Bundesliga campaign, but will play for a win against Koeln. Barring any late injuries, Robin Dutt will have a full squad to choose from on Saturday.
Hamburg – Nuernberg
Having crashed out of the Europa League with a 2-1 defeat to Fulham, Hamburg have just two weeks to salvage their season. Five points behind Stuttgart, the northern Germans are almost certain to be out of European play next year, but will certainly give their best effort. Jose Paolo Guerrero and Tolgay-Ali Arslan are suspended, while Marcell Jansen, Eljero Elia, Romeo Castelen, Tunay Torun and Colin Benjamin have been ruled out due to injuries.
Nuernberg remain knee-deep in the relegation fight, having just a small goal difference advantage over Bochum. The Bavarian side started the season well, but have struggled in recent months, and will need a positive result from at least one of their two remaining fixtures. Dieter Hecking will have to make up his game plan without including Breno, Angelos Charisteas and Alexander Stephan.
Hannover – Borussia Moenchengladbach
Hannover have lost their last two matches by an aggregate score of 10-0, but still have a chance of surviving the drop. The crisis and injury-stricken side have had an extremely difficult year, and it would be a real triumph if they were to avoid relegation. Mirko Slomka will have to do without Vinicius, Jan Rosenthal, Mikael Forssell, Salvatore Zizzo, Leon Andreasen, Altin Lala, Elson, Jacek Krzynowek and Arouna Kone.
Borussia Moenchengladbach fought hard last weekend and took a well-earned 1-1 draw from league leaders Bayern Munich. During that match, starlet Marco Reus scored an excellent goal, and as a result will look to impress Germany boss Joachim Loew with another strong performance this weekend. The Moenchengladbach squad includes just one injury (Dorda), but striker Raul Bobadilla will be sorely missed.
Schalke – Werder Bremen
Heiko Westermann’s 87th minute winner against Hertha Berlin put Schalke level on points with leaders Bayern Munich. With just two games to go, the Gelsenkirchen side cannot afford to drop any more points: victory over Bremen is imperative if Felix Magath’s side are to win their first Bundesliga title since 1958. Magath has ruled out unfit contingent Albert Sterit, Jermaine Jones, Levan Kenia and Vasilios Pliatsikas.
With just two matches to go, Bremen remain in a heated fight for third place and a potential Champions League berth. In order to fend off pressure from Dortmund and Leverkusen, the red-hot team from Germany’s northwestern corner also need a win on Saturday. Coach Thomas Schaaf welcomes back fit-again striker Sandro Wanger, but will have to do without Sebastian Mielitz, Peter Niemeyer and Christian Vander.
Stuttgart – Mainz
For the fourth consecutive year, Stuttgart are finishing strongly, and appear to be closing in on a Europa League berth. The Swabians earned a 2-0 win away to Bochum last week, and are five points clear of Hamburg. Looking ahead to their clash with Mainz, Christian Gross’ squad will be missing injured trio Sven Ulreich, Alessandro Riedle and Stefano Celozzi.
Lat week, Mainz battled back against Frankfurt in an exciting match, earning a 3-3 draw. Looking ahead, the promoted side have little to play for, but that reality seems to have no bearing on their performance. Radoslav Zabavnik, Dimo Wache, Tim Hoogland, Jan Kirchhoff and Zsolt Loew have been ruled out of contention, while question marks exist over Jan Simak and Bo Svensson.
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