Round 34 action - Closing Weekend
The final weekend of the Bundesliga season is upon us and there is little left to play for in the top half of the table. Eintracht Frankfurt’s 4-3 defeat to Schalke 04 ended their hopes of Champions League football and ensured that Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg take up the final two slots. After a year of an open race, in the end the four biggest teams made it, proving that this exhausting season favoured deeper squads.
But there is still all to play for at the bottom. Only Schalke are guaranteed to go down, with Arminia Bielefeld, Werder Bremen, and FC Koln battling it out to avoid the final two places. With Bayer Leverkusen guaranteed the final Europa League spot above Union Berlin, the relegation battle is all that is left to focus on this weekend - almost.
There is also the Europa Conference League to think about, and this will go to one of the four clubs chasing seventh.
Here are previews of the matches involving those in danger of going down.
Stuttgart v Arminia Bielefeld
Arminia Bielefeld are only in trouble if either of their relegation rivals win, so it is alarming that they are are second favourites for their final game of the campaign. The visitors have only won two away matches all season and are on a three-game winless run, while Stuttgart have won four of their last six at home.
In fact, the hosts have ended the season strongly and suddenly look far more robust than they did through the majority of the season. They are also hoping to pip Union Berlin to the Europa Conference League spot, and therefore will be fully focused for this one. Having beaten Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend they will be confident of finishing the job on Saturday.
Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach
Monchengladbach have been in complete free-fall since Marco Rose was announced as the new Borussia Dortmund manager, and they are yet to hit their nadir, it seems. Back-to-back defeats have almost destroyed their hopes of playing in Europe next season, while a very poor away record - one win in six - hands Werder Bremen the chance to save their season at the last.
However, Bremen have now gone 10 Bundesliga games without a win and are in an even worse run of form than their opponents this weekend. Consequently, in a very low-quality game between two nervous and out-of-form teams, the side with the superior quality in the final third should have enough to huff and puff over the line. That's Monchengladbach, in our view.
Back Monchengladbach to win (2.40).
FC Koln v Schalke 04
The stage is set, then, for a dramatic final-day escape for FC Koln. They have languished in the relegation zone for quite some time, but are likely to leapfrog Monchengladbach and Arminia Bielefeld with a win against rock-bottom Schalke. The visitors have won just 16 points all season and, incredibly, have failed to win a single match away from home (they've drawn four).
Schalke are unlikely to start winning now. Already down and showing little signs of playing for pride, they are there for the taking. Koln have won seven points from their last four games, including a win at RB Leizpig, and for that reason alone should be considered favourites to escape relegation on Saturday. The odds suggest they are heavy favourites to do so.