Bundesliga Preview: Strugglers set to meet as relegation battle heats up
By Football News
With the title race wrapped up in record time, eyes turn to the relegation fight in the Bundesliga during what could be a defining weekend.
Bayern made certain of their 24th league title on Tuesday with victory at Hertha Berlin and, while the trophy has been destined for the Allianz Arena for much of the campaign, the battle to avoid the drop has been far more intriguing.
Midweek results led to a reshuffling of the pack in the lower reaches of the German top flight and that could be the case again by the close of round 28 of action, with a number of survival six-pointers taking place.
Hannover and Werder Bremen, 12th and 13th respectively, could yet be dragged back into the relegation mix-up but can take a big step towards safety in Sunday's late clash at the HDI-Arena.
Both sides have lost their last two - offering hope to Nuremberg and Freiburg beneath them.
They meet at the Mage Solar Stadion on Saturday, with Gertjan Verbeek's side coming into the game having beaten fellow strugglers Stuttgart on Wednesday - a result that ended a four-match losing streak and moved them up to 14th.
A Josip Drmic brace was enough to condemn Huub Stevens to his first defeat as Stuttgart boss and his charges will have their work cut out against Borussia Dortmund as they bid to bounce back.
Stuttgart were taken apart 6-1 in the reverse fixture and Jurgen Klopp's team will be eager for a repeat as they fight it out with Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen for automatic UEFA Champions League qualification.
Rock-bottom Eintracht Braunschweig can build on their excellent win over UEFA Europa League hopefuls Mainz when they travel to Leverkusen, while 16th-placed Hamburg visit Borussia Monchengladbach.
Schalke earned a goalless draw in the Revierderby against Dortmund in midweek, with coach Jens Keller commenting: "The way our young team held their own and earned themselves a point was impressive."
He will be determined to build on that showing when Hertha Berlin head to the Veltins Arena on Friday, with the hosts aiming to overtake Dortmund, even if only temporarily.
Eintracht Frankfurt look to be safe from the drop but could have a say in who makes the final European spots against Wolfsburg, while Hoffenheim are the latest side to try to stop the Bayern juggernaut.
Pep Guardiola's side are still in the running to become the first team to go an entire Bundesliga season unbeaten and they are 14 points from equalling the league's record haul of 91 - set by Jupp Heynckes' Bayern outfit last term.