What is left to be decided?

Posted on April 22, 2011

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The 31st weekend of the Bundesliga began last night with Hannover 96 jumping in to the second Champions League position after a 3-1 victory in Freiburg. The next couple of weeks will decide the movers and shakers of the German top-flight with scores to be settled up and down the league.

It is safe to assume that Borussia Dortmund will have their hands on the Bundesliga shield after establishing an eight-point lead last Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s men could have the title wrapped up tomorrow if they beat Gladbach and Bayer Leverkusen lose at home to Hoffenheim.

Who will qualify for the Champions League?

Six points separate Bayer Leverkusen, Hannover and FC Bayern with just two Champions League places to play for in the final four matches of the season. Hannover have, of course, played a match more than Leverkusen and FC Bayern after Thursday’s win at Freiburg and the pressure is firmly back on FC Bayern with the Bavarians away to Frankfurt tomorrow.

Realistically, FC Bayern will need to take maximum points from their next four games and hope that either Hannover or Leverkusen drop points in their remaining fixtures. Confidence will be high following their dismantling of Leverkusen last weekend and head coach Andries Jonker has been given the task to bring some ‘fun’ back in to FC Bayern’s play.

The reigning champions take on Frankfurt tomorrow, Schalke next weekend, then St Pauli away followed by a home-match on the final weekend of the season against VfB Stuttgart. Three points for FC Bayern tomorrow in Frankfurt would be enough for them to move back in to third-place ahead of Hannover 96.

It will be hard to envisage Leverkusen throwing away a four-point lead over Hannover and six-point lead over FC Bayern and Jupp Heynckes have a favorable set of games including Hoffenheim, Koln and Freiburg.

Who will qualify for the Europa League?

There are four teams vying for a Europa League position in the Bundesliga, separated by a 12-point gap from Hamburg SV in seventh, to FC Bayern in fourth. Hamburg, on 43 points, will have aspirations of catching Mainz who are in the second Europa League position and lead HSV by five points.

Sandwiched between HSV, Mainz and FC Bayern are the over-achieving Nurnberg who are enjoying an excellent season by their standards under Dieter Hecking. Nurnberg have an extremely difficult run-in with matches against Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and Hannover.

However, tomorrow’s match with Mainz may just be one of the defining games in the chase for a Europa League spot. Two points separate Nurnberg and Mainz going in to tomorrow’s match and Mainz could potentially secure that position with a victory tomorrow.

Who will go down?

As much as eight teams in the Bundesliga still find themselves in a battle to remain in the top-flight with nine points separating Gladbach at the bottom and Werder Bremen in 11th.

Bottom of the table Gladbach may struggle to climb out of the relegation positions and with matches against Dortmund, Hannover, Freiburg and Hamburg, they are facing an up-hill task to gain, at least, seven points to survive.

However, St Pauli and Wolfsburg are certainly not resigned to relegation and require, at least, four points to stay in the Bundesliga from their remaining four matches. Wolfsburg will be hoping that Felix Magath’s intense coaching sessions will have a positive impact as they aim to catch the five teams above them.

Although, the 16th-placed team in the Bundesliga, currently Wolfsburg, have the get-out clause against the third-placed team of Bundesliga.2 to see who will participate in the top-flight next season.

Realistically, three points for Werder Bremen, Koln and Kaiserslutern in their final four games should be enough to guarantee their place in the Bundesliga next season. Stuttgart and Frankfurt on 33 points will be aiming for two wins, at least, to guarantee survival with a four-point gap between them and Wolfsburg and St Pauli.

Either way, with the title already heading for Dortmund, the Bundesliga will still have a number of scores to settle in the remaining four weeks of the season.

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Posted in: Feature