Bundesliga – Week 31 – What’s to play for?

22 Apr

The Title

Getting closer...

Borussia Dortmund (1st, 69 pts) will win their 7th German Championship on Saturday should they win at ‘Gladbach and Bayer Leverkusen (2nd, 61 pts) fail to beat Hoffenheim.

The Champions League

Leverkusen themselves can move within a win of guaranteed Champions League football next season should they beat 1899.

Hannover 96 moved two points above Bayern Munich (4th, 55 pts) and into 3rd, at least for the time being, with a comfortable 3-1 win at Freiburg on Thursday night. Bayern can retake the 3rd Champions League spot with victory at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Final 3 fixtures:

  • Hannover 96 – Gladbach (H), Stuttgart (A), Nürnberg (H)
  • Bayern Munich – Schalke (H), St Pauli (A), Stuttgart (H)

The Europa League

Mainz battled to a 3-0 win in November

With either Hannover or Bayern Munich almost certain to pick up 4th, only one spot remains. Hamburg and Freiburg have a fallen away in recent weeks which means it’s effectively another straight shoot out – this time between Mainz 05 (5th, 48 pts) and Nürnberg (6th, 46 pts).

This Sunday evening, both teams face-off in Nürnberg. The home side knows it must avoid defeat, whilst knowing a win would put them in pole-position. A draw would definitely suit Mainz,  who won the reverse 3-0 in week 14, the better.

Final 3 fixtures:

  • Mainz 05 – Eintracht Frankfurt (H), Schalke (A), St Pauli (H)
  • Nürnberg – Borussia Dortmund (A), Hoffenheim (H), Hannover 96 (A)

The Relegation Battle

Werder Bremen (11th, 35 pts) and Köln (12th, 35 pts) could rubberstamp survival this weekend with wins at St Pauli and Wolfsburg respectively. Defeat for either or both would close the gap to the bottom three, and necks would again begin to moisten in Bremen and particularly Cologne who have hit an alarming slump. In contrast, St Pauli (17th, 29 pts) and Wolfsburg (16th, 29 pts) will be targeting their home games and the weekend provides a real opportunity to tighten things up at the bottom. All four sides should look for all three.

Köln coach Frank Schäfer is to step down

Kaiserslautern (13th, 34 pts) would all but guarantee a second season of Bundesliga football should they win at Schalke on Saturday. The home side may have an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final against Manchester United, so Marco Kurz’s side may fancy their chances in Gelsenkirchen.

14th place Stuttgart (33 pts) were buoyant after Saturday’s 3-1 win at Köln saw them move 4 points clear of the bottom three. This Saturday they welcome Hamburg to Swabia, and Bruno Labaddia’s charges know they will go a long way to survival with a win. It won’t be easy – Stuttgart have the 3rd worst home record in the league (something I put down to the redevelopment of an end at the Mercedes-Benz Arena).

Bayern Munich are the visitors this weekend for Eintracht Frankfurt (15th, 33 pts). The Eagles will still be smarting from their defeat to Hoffenheim last time out, whilst the Bavarians will no doubt be on a high after thumping Leverkusen 5-1 in Andries Jonker’s first game. Frankfurt could be within a point of the drop zone should results not go their way.

Finally, Borussia M’Gladbach will be playing in front of a sell out 54,000 capacity crowd on Saturday evening with around 20,000 Dortmund fans expected to make the trip. ‘Gladbach need an unlikely three points to retain any hopes of avoiding the drop. A loss, coupled with wins for Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Kaiserslautern would mathematically kill any chance of escaping the bottom three.

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