Gladbach and Schalke chase third place

Schalke 04 and Borussia Monchengladbach are going into the penultimate match of the Bundesliga season locked in a race for the last automatic Champions League qualification spot.

Third-placed Schalke, two points ahead of Gladbach, face relegation-threatened Hertha Berlin on Saturday, who are desperate for three points to maintain their hopes of staying up.

Fourth-placed Gladbach, who escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, take on Augsburg who still need three points to be mathematically sure of top flight football next season.

Borussia Dortmund, in action at relegated Kaiserslautern, have already won the title with an unassailable lead over Bayern Munich, who entertain VfB Stuttgart.

"Last week we failed to take a big stop towards securing third place but it is still in our hands," said Schalke central defender Joel Matip.

Schalke drew 1-1 at Augsburg last week, failing to take full advantage of Gladbach's 2-0 defeat against champions Dortmund.

"The most important thing is that if we win both remaining matches then nobody can take third place away," he said.

"Hertha will fight for every centimetre to get the maximum out for them. We have to hold against that and I believe we have the quality to get all three points," Matip said.

While even a draw could be enough for Schalke, Gladbach know that only a win would keep them in the running for a Champions League group stage. Anything else could lead to the dreaded and highly unpredictable qualifying rounds.

A fourth-place finish would be a staggering achievement for a team that needed a relegation play-off last season to stay up.

Coach Lucien Favre still faces the prospect of several of his top players including forward Marco Reus and defender Dante leaving at the end of the season.

Gladbach captain Filip Daems broke off training on Wednesday with pain in his knee while forward Mike Hanke is nursing minor adductor muscle problems. A decision on whether they will play will be taken later this week, Gladbach said.

VfL Wolfsburg, the 2009 champions who are in 10th place on 41 points, will battle it out with Werder Bremen, a point above in eighth, for an outside chance of booking a Europa League spot.

For Bayer Leverkusen, in sixth place, a point against Hannover 96 could be enough to secure European action next season though their seventh-placed opponents are desperate for a win to secure their berth.

Hamburg SV, the only ever-present club since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963, need to a win against Mainz 05 to rid themselves of any last-minute relegation worries.


SHARES
comments