Bundesliga Preview: Hamburg tackle relegation rivals Braunschweig, Leverkusen face Schalke
By Football News
Hamburg have a golden opportunity to kick-start their Bundesliga survival bid when they travel to relegation rivals Eintracht Braunschweig.
Bert van Marwijk's side have lost six league games in a row, a run that has left Hamburg second bottom in the table and speculation rife regarding the head coach's future.
At the end of November, Hamburg were 10th in the table, but a terrible slump in fortunes has intensified the pressure on Van Marwijk and his players, culminating in fan protests after last week's 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin.
Braunschweig have been bottom of the table for the majority of their first season back in the German top flight for close to three decades, meaning Saturday's encounter is pivotal for both sides.
At the opposite end of the Bundesliga, leaders Bayern Munich can make it 46 games unbeaten in the league when they visit Freiburg on Saturday.
Given that Bayern have not lost against Freiburg since 1996, Pep Guardiola's men will be confident of maintaining their 13-point lead at the top.
The race for second remains an intriguing battle with two of the contenders going head-to-head this weekend as Bayer Leverkusen welcome Schalke to the BayArena.
After ending 2013 with three consecutive league defeats, Leverkusen have returned to winning ways, but Schalke beat them in August and are currently unbeaten in five in the Bundesliga.
Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund face Eintracht Frankfurt hoping to boost their own chances of finishing second.
Borussia Monchengladbach can keep up the pressure on the top four when they travel north to Werder Bremen. But with no win in five in the league, Gladbach could find it difficult, despite Bremen's poor home form.
Relegation-threatened Nuremberg travel to in-form Augsburg hoping to put defeat against Bayern last Saturday behind them and record a third win in four in the Bundesliga.
Augsburg have risen up the Bundesliga in the last two months thanks to five wins in eight, a run that has seen them go from relegation candidates to a club safe in mid-table.
Meanwhile, Mainz and Hannover go head-to-head at the Coface Arena, while Stuttgart, who have lost five consecutive league games, travel to Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin host Wolfsburg at the Olympiastadion.