Although Bayern Munich secured their third successive Bundesliga title several weeks previously, it is a totally different story at the foot of the table as the league campaign concludes this week. As many as six teams are still involved in attempting to avoid demotion to the second tier and none of the relegation places have yet to be decided. With just four points separating bottom team Paderborn from 13th placed Hertha Berlin, the final matches of the season promise some intriguing encounters.
Paderborn were promoted from Bundesliga 2 last season and won two of their first four games in the top flight before meeting Bayern Munich and losing 4-0. That game proved to be a rude awakening for the team from North Rhine-Westphalia and just two further victories were registered before the mid-season break. Goal scoring has been a problem for Paderborn since January, although fortunes have improved since April with wins against Augsburg and Freiburg, but a late own goal at Schalke last weekend condemned the team to another defeat. Any result other than a victory this coming Saturday will definitely ensure that Paderborn return to the second tier yet they will be hosting a Stuttgart team with just two points more than themselves and two positions higher in the Bundesliga.
2007 Bundesliga champions Stuttgart have collected just two points on away soil this year and were considered certainties for relegation at the end of February. However, they have remained unbeaten on home territory since that time, a sequence which includes four victories, and they have scored at least twice in their previous four league games. Away form for Stuttgart remains suspect, but the team produced a decent display last weekend when a 2-1 home victory against Hamburg should have been more emphatic.
Hamburg had collected seven points from three games before losing on Saturday and they will be hoping to maintain their proud record of never being relegated from the Bundesliga since the foundation of the league in 1962. To avoid automatic demotion on Sunday, second bottom Hamburg must beat Schalke at home on Saturday and then hope for favours from other teams to prevent a repeat of last season when they finished 16th and successfully competed in the relegation playoffs.
Hannover and Freiburg occupy positions just one point above the relegation zone but the teams play against each other at the HDI-Arena this weekend. Either team could be relegated via a defeat but Hannover will be hoping that Lars Stindl can maintain his recent goalscoring form with four strikes from as many games whereas a draw would suit Freiburg given their superior goal difference. Freiburg have also drawn their three previous away contests.
Lastly, a point for Hertha Berlin at Hoffenheim will ensure Bundesliga football for next season in the capital city but a two goal defeat could involve the team being embroiled in the relegation playoffs. Hertha are winless in six matches and have netted just once in five previous games.
It promises to be a thrilling finish for the relegation places in the Bundesliga with six teams facing an uncertain and nervy few days as the weekend approaches.
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