Bundesliga weekend preview: Champions League battle down to the wire
The final day of the Bundesliga season takes place this weekend with the final Champions League spot up for grabs.
Last Updated: 18/05/13 6:04pm
The race for fourth place not only goes down to the final day of the season on Saturday, but the two sides fighting it out for a berth in the play-off round of the Champions League go head to head.
Germany's Black Forest is the venue as surprise package Freiburg, who were bottom of the Bundesliga less than 18 months ago, face Schalke, who were eliminated from the Champions League in the last 16 this season. Freiburg are doing the chasing and need to win to move above the Royal Blues, who need only a draw to secure their second straight season among Europe's elite.
"We've got everything to gain against Schalke. Qualifying for Europe is an excellent confirmation of our season, and it would be great if we could measure ourselves with the very best," said Freiburg's captain Julian Schuster.
The pressure is undoubtedly greater for Schalke, who risk missing out on their objective for the season.
"It's every footballer's dream to play in the Champions League," said their captain Benedikt Howedes on his club's website.
Simply playing in the Bundesliga next season is the dream of three clubs who go into the final weekend of the season with their top-flight futures still hanging in the balance.
Fortuna Dusseldorf, without a win in their last 11 matches, are currently clinging on to a second season in the Bundesliga by virtue of a superior goal difference to 16th-place Augsburg, and they head to Hannover.
Augsburg, were the season to end as thing stand, would be involved in a play-off to avoid relegation with Kaiserslautern, who have finished third in the second division, and they have arguably the easiest task of the weekend. They host Bavarian rivals Greuther Furth, who are already relegated, while Hoffenheim need to hope one of Augsburg or Fortuna slip up if they are to have any chance of staying up.
Markus Gisdol's men travel to Borussia Dortmund hoping their opponents already have next weekend's Champions League final on their minds.
"You need everything to come together in a game like this," said Gisdol on his club's website.
The only other issue to be decided this weekend is that of who will be appearing in the Europa League alongside Freiburg or Schalke and DFB-Pokal finalists Stuttgart. Eintracht Frankfurt need just a point from their game against Wolfsburg to secure sixth spot, presuming Hamburg fail to overturn an inferior goal difference of 13 when they host Bayer Leverkusen.
Borussia Monchengladbach still have a mathematical chance of sneaking past both of them, but they would need to land a major coup against champions Bayern Munich and hope both their rivals slip up.
Finally, Stuttgart host Mainz with little but pride to play for.