Bundesliga: The battle for Europe is hotting up in Germany
Five into three is the equation that still needs to be resolved as the race for places in Europe intensifies in Germany.
Last Updated: 05/05/13 10:42am
With Champions League finalists Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund already assured of their places in that competition next season, and Bayer Leverkusen just a win away from joining them, it remains anybody's guess who will be Germany's fourth entry with three games of the Bundesliga season still to go.
Schalke have the best chance of earning a place among Europe's elite, yet that cannot be taken for granted as they head to Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday night knowing defeat would throw things wide open.
"We mustn't concern ourselves with all the potential scenarios, we must just concentrate on tomorrow's game," said Gladbach coach Lucien Favre.
The situation is not all that complicated, however. A win for the Foals would take them up to fifth, a point behind the Royal Blues. And then, on Saturday, the pack can be shuffled once again when Eintracht Frankfurt, three points behind Schalke, host struggling Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Sunday brings two more games which will shed further light on how the battle for Europe is shaping up - when eighth-placed Hamburg play Wolfsburg and sixth-placed Freiburg meet relegation-haunted Augsburg.
"We want to show against Wolfsburg this Sunday that we are going to exhaust all of our opportunities (to qualify for Europe)," said Hamburg's coach Thorsten Fink.
"And then if the other teams around us do the same, and are better in the end, then we can also lose, but at least we can say we gave it a go."
While five clubs can realistically still qualify for Europe, four could follow Greuther Furth into the second division.
That includes Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim, who meet on Saturday with the hosts needing their first win since February to ease their ever-increasing relegation fears.
Defeat could see Thomas Schaaf's men drop into the bottom three, should Augsburg and Fortuna both win, and reduce the gap over their opponents to just two points.
Finally, Stuttgart host Furth and Nurnberg entertain Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.