Now or never in Bundesliga relegation fight

The Bundesliga's relegation battle will be decided on Saturday with ex-champions VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach in the thick of the fight to avoid the dreaded drop.

Updated: May 13, 2011 10:23 IST
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Berlin: The Bundesliga's relegation battle will be decided on Saturday with ex-champions VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach in the thick of the fight to avoid the dreaded drop.

Wolfsburg, 'Gladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt are all fighting to stay up and one of the three will definitely be relegated on Saturday.

2009 champions Wolfsburg are 15th on 35 points, the same as 'Gladbach who are in 16th place, which would mean a play-off against the side third from top of the second division at the end of May.

Frankfurt are 17th, one of the positions which means automatic relegation while bottom side St Pauli have already been sent down.

On Saturday, Wolfsburg are at mid-table Hoffenheim, 'Gladbach are at Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt are at champions Borussia Dortmund.

Having spent most of the season bottom of the table, 'Gladbach, who last won the Bundesliga in 1977, are just one game from pulling off a memorable escape.

They have won their last three matches against high-fliers Dortmund, Hanover and Freiburg and a fourth-straight win at Hamburg would give them a fighting chance of survival.

Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath, who took over in March after ex-England coach Steve McClaren was sacked, says 'Gladbach are under pressure.

"Gladbach are on the upswing after three wins and for them, the situation has changed," said Magath.

"They were previously at the foot of the table and everyone had written them off. They had nothing to lose."

"Now they are in the play-off place and have something to lose, so I think it will be harder for them on the final day."

The 57-year-old has indulged in some mind games with his Wolfsburg players by confidently donating to charity a Bentley Cabrio he has been promised for keeping his team in the Germany league.

Even though his side could still be relegated, he has handed over the sports car worth 250,000 euros ($353,990) to show his players the sacrifices he expects to help stay in Germany's top tier.

With the German league title secured, Magath expects Dortmund will want to bring down the curtain on the season with a convincing win at home over Frankfurt.

"Nobody from Borussia Dortmund will want to take part in the celebrations with the bad taste of defeat in the mouth," he said.

Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa has been included in the Dortmund squad, despite breaking his foot in January.

The last time the 22-year-old played was in the Asian Cup semi-final against South Korea when he broke a metatarsal bone, but could be named on the bench despite only returning to training last week.

Magath has already told his squad that in the event of relegation, they will all be held to their contracts and they can forget any ideas of quitting the Bundesliga or joining a team still in Germany's top flight.

"The players who cooked us up this soup will be given a spoon and told to drink it," Magath said.

Bayern Munich aim to finish second in the German league by beating Stuttgart at home, while hoping rivals Bayer Leverkusen lose.

Third-placed Munich are only three points behind and can finish no lower than third, but a win over Stuttgart would see them finish second, as long as Leverkusen lose away to Freiburg.

Bayern are sure to play in the Champions League next season, but a second-placed finish would mean they qualify directly for the group stages, while third would mean they would need to qualify through a play-off.

Fixtures (Saturday):

Bayern Munich v VfB Stuttgart, Hoffenheim v VfL Wolfsburg, Hanover 96 v Nuremberg, Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburg v Borussia M'gladbach, Mainz 05 v St. Pauli, Cologne v Schalke 04, Freiburg v Bayer Leverkusen, Kaiserslautern v Werder Bremen

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