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Eintracht Frankfurt v Hamburg (Sat 2.30pm)
Another great escape could be on for Hamburg. They had to win against Wolfsburg last week in a relegation six-pointer and they did. Their 3-1 victory took them to within two points of their opponents who occupy 16th, the relegation playoff spot, with just two games to play.
Lewis Holtby’s fine form has no doubt played a role in that. He scored their second against Wolfsburg to make it four goals in five games. His close relationship with coach Christian Titz has helped too and that was evident with what Holtby had to say after the win.
“We’re playing football for the first time in four years. Those are harsh words, but I stand by it because it’s the truth.”
Christian Titz found those words unpleasant but there is something to be said for how he’s got Hamburg playing good football in such precarious circumstances.
Eintracht Frankfurt on the other hand looked in good shape to make the Bundesliga’s top four just a few weeks ago but their Bundesliga season has collapsed ever since it was announced that Niko Kovac was moving to Bayern at the end of the campaign.
Eintracht have conceded 11 in total in their last three games with four of those coming away at Bayern, which sporting director Fredi Bobic described as a “non-performance” last weekend.
Eintracht are unbeaten in their last 11 games against Hamburg but they still have the DFB-Cup final to think about. Their minds have looked elsewhere in recent weeks which should be good news for Hamburg this weekend.
- Frankfurt 1, Hamburg 2 (11-1, Unibet)
- Holtby to score first (14-1, Unibet)
- Hamburg win (5-2, Unibet)
Dortmund v Mainz (Sat 2.30pm)
To be absolutely certain of Champions League football next season, Dortmund need a win from their final two games and that, says coach Peter Stöger, is all that’s concerning him at present rather than his future.
They put in a “decent” performance at Bremen last weekend, as Marco Reus put it, but on several occasions, they were thwarted by an excellent display from Werder goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka.
Reus himself was on target in the 1-1 draw but he’s not trained with the team this week barring one training session which just involved running. He’s still not been ruled out for Saturday just yet with Stöger looking to field the same line-up for the third game running.
Mainz will arrive in Dortmund full of courage though after last weekend’s 3-0 win against Leipzig. They rode their luck at times, but the clinical finishing of Sandro Schwarz’s side ultimately made the difference.
Schwarz revealed he’d taken some inspiration from his former team-mate Jürgen Klopp this week. Whilst watching Liverpool’s 5-2 win over Roma last week, so impressed was he with the runs Liverpool were making in behind, he called up his video analyst to clip up the scenes to use with his players.
The win against Leipzig gave Mainz a three-point cushion from the relegation playoff but there was bad news this week. Goalkeeper René Adler sustained a knee injury in training and won’t play in either of Mainz’s final two games.
Mainz will still have their chances on Saturday, but you’d still expect Dortmund to pull through here.
Stuttgart v Hoffenheim (Sat 2.30pm)
It was with a smirk that Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez said they had been Real Madrid against Leverkusen last weekend, referencing the first leg of Bayern’s Champions League defeat earlier that week.
The former Bayern striker had a point too. During their 1-0 win, goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler saved a penalty before then nearly gifting Leverkusen a goal in the second half only to atone for his error with another save.
Christian Gentner punished their opponents’ profligacy meaning that Stuttgart are two points off the Europa League places going into the final games of the season.
It is thanks to Stuttgart that Hoffenheim moved into fourth last weekend. Leverkusen’s defeat allowed Hoffenheim to stay in the Champions League places. They’d moved there on Friday night after a 3-1 win over Hannover, inspired by an Andrej Kramaric hat-trick.
Coach Julian Nagelsmann didn’t seem all that impressed still. He put it down to Hoffenheim having two good 10-minute spells during the game. They did find it difficult to break down a well organised Hannover team for long spells, but the in-form Serge Gnabry going off injured didn’t help their cause.
Gnabry, a product of Stuttgart’s academy, will miss the trip back to Swabia through injury meaning Nadiem Amiri will take his place.
Now Hoffenheim have to break down the best home defence in the division with Stuttgart having only conceded nine goals at the Mercedes-Benz Arena this season. This should be tight – best to back a draw.
- Stuttgart 1, Hoffenheim 1 (13-2, Unibet)
- Kramaric to score first (11-2, Unibet)
- Draw (57-20, Unibet)
Augsburg v Schalke (Sat 2.30pm)
Schalke’s return to the Champions League after a three-year hiatus is all but confirmed but with two games to go, they still need a point to be absolutely sure.
That’s after they drew 1-1 at home against Borussia Mönchengladbach last weekend. Nabil Bentaleb was sent off 12 minutes in after hitting Lars Stindl over the head.
The red card explains why Schalke had 27% possession but that they went 1-0 down thereafter and still came back to draw tells you a lot about the character which Domenico Tedesco has forged within the side this season.
Bentaleb is now suspended for the final two games of the season with Weston McKennie likely to take his place in holding midfield. Max Meyer would have been an option, but such is the way the dispute over his future has played out between his agent and sporting director Christian Heidel, Meyer now won’t play again for Schalke this season.
Augsburg on the other hand don’t really have anything left to play for this season. They’re 11th – a position which given how many backed them for the drop at the start of the season still qualifies as a good season for Manuel Baum’s side.
Goalkeeper Marwin Hitz will start his final home game for Augsburg, with it announced this week that he’ll leave at the end of the season, while Michael Gregoritsch is a doubt due to injury.
Augsburg still have the tools to cause Schalke problems but back the Royal Blues to edge through here.
- Augsburg 1, Schalke 2 (8-1, Unibet)
- Burgstaller to score first (21-4, Unibet)
- Schalke win (59-50, Unibet)
Munich-born Raphael Honigstein writes about football for Germany’s biggest broadsheet, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, ESPNFC and his tips appear here thanks to our football partner at MrFixitsTips, Unibet. They're making a big splash in the UK betting scene and if you join them today you can claim up to £30 in Welcome Bonuses when you deposit and place your first bet.