Bundesliga Preview: Relegation Zone Battle May Clear Up After Matchday 31
The teams positioned 12-18 in the Bundesliga are separated by only eight points with four matches left in the season. As the second half of the season has worn on, each team has had opportunities to move safely out of the relegation discussion, but have failed to take them. The four teams in the greatest danger all face an opponent in the top five of the table. An upset victory by any of these teams this weekend could change their fortune for next season.
Stuttgart vs. Schalke
Stuttgart sits one point clear of the relegation zone as they host third-place Schalke. Unfortunately, Stuttgart has only managed 16 points from their 15 home matches this season. They also struggle to score at home having only averaged just over a goal a game. They also have conceded a goal in almost 90 percent of their home matches this year.
Meanwhile, Schalke is undefeated over their last seven matches and took home three points in five of those matches. A win or draw for Schalke would equal their best run since 2009-10.
Hamburg vs. Wolfsburg
Hamburg is one point below Stuttgart in the relegation playoff spot and have only managed eight points from their previous eight matches. Being at home should help Hamburg as they have captured two-thirds of their points in their home arena. However, they are known to concede goals with 62 goals against on the season. That is next to last in the Bundesliga.
Wolfsburg has scored a goal in each of their previous 22 matches. However, the Wolves have conceded a goal in all but one away match this year. With these stats, it should come as no surprise that in the previous 33 matches between Hamburg and Wolfsburg, at least one goal has been scored. The next tally will be the 100th goal scored in contests between these two teams.
Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka can also reach 100 wins as a Bundesliga coach in this game.
Nürnberg vs. Leverkusen
Nürnberg is the worst team at home this season in the Bundesliga. They have managed only three wins in the 15 matches held at the Grundig-Stadion this season. They are coming off a 4-1 loss to Wolfsburg. Over the last eight matches, Nürnberg is averaging three goals against and that includes a shut out of Stuttgart. It is welcome news that Timothy Chandler has returned to training.
Javier Pinola can make his 200th appearance for der Club this weekend as well.
Eintracht Braunschweig vs. Bayern Munich
It is top of the table versus bottom of the table here. Bayern Munich has slumped in league play suffering two losses and a draw over the last three. However, they captured a 5-1 victory in the DFB Pokal semifinal on Wednesday. This match will be Bayern’s 50th of the season, more than any other Bundesliga team. Also, as reported on the official Bundesliga website, Braunschweig is the only club in the top tier that Thomas Müller and Claudio Pizarro have not scored against.
Braunschweig’s fortunes have turned of late, but it has not been enough to overcome their poor start. They have gained 10 points in their last eight matches. Despite form, this seems like a tall task for the last place team.
Predictions (note that one Thursday match was completed by the time of publishing):
Dortmund 2 - Mainz 1
Augsburg 1 - Hertha Berlin 1
Mönchengladbach 2 - Freiburg 1
Bayern 3 – Braunschweig 1
Hoffenheim 3 - Werder Bremen 2
Wolfsburg 2 – Hamburg 0
Leverkusen 3 - Nürnberg 0
Schalke 4 – Stuttgart 1