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Bundesliga preview: Schalke thoughts switch to home
Created on Mar. 15, 2013 3:00 AM EST
Schalke will be hoping to banish thoughts of their Champions League exit in midweek as they fight for a top-four spot in the Bundesliga.
The German side was bundled out of Europe's premier club competition at the hands of Galatasaray, but have won their past three in the league to be sitting in the final Champions League spot for next season's tournament.
There are five teams - hypothetically - that could be fourth by the time the weekend's out though, making every point gained imperative for Jens Keller's men.
They will travel to Nuremburg on Saturday, with the mid-table club unbeaten in six.
Schalke - on 39 points - have a poor recent record at the Grundig Stadium, losing on their past two visits.
Hunting the final Champions League place are Eintracht Frankfurt (fifth - 39 points), Hamburg (sixth - 38 points), Mainz (seventh - 37 points) and Freiburg (eighth - 36 points).
Frankfurt entertain a struggling Stuttgart outfit, who have lost their past two and sit in 14th spot.
Hamburg host an Augsburg side that sits in the relegation playoff spot, and are seven points behind complete safety.
Mainz are on the road to Hoffenheim - two points worse off than Augsburg - while Freiburg travel to second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who are last-start losers.
Given all are winnable matches, each side will be desperate to keep up the pressure on their rivals as they battle for a cherished CL spot.
On Friday night, Wolfsburg will host Fortuna Dusseldorf. Wolves will be out to regain the faith of their Volkswagen Arena supporters, who last witnessed a 4-1 reverse to Schalke.
Werder Bremen host bottom club Greuther Furth, with the latter all but relegated as they sit 14 points from safety, although only seven from the playoff spot.
Virtual champions Bayern Munich - a lazy 20 points ahead at the helm - take on third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, with the latter still wanting to sew up their CL group-stage ticket for next season.
Leverkusen are six points clear of Schalke in fourth, but need to keep winning if they are to avoid having to qualify for Europe's premier competition.
Finally on Sunday, Borussia Moenchengladbach will welcome Hannover 96 in a mid-table affair.