Bundesliga Preview: Monchengladbach host Leverkusen in battle for third
With Bayern Munich having already wrapped up the Bundesliga title, the chase for guaranteed UEFA Champions League football intensifies this weekend as Borussia Monchengladbach host Bayer Leverkusen.
The teams sit third and fourth respectively, with only the top three earning an automatic place in the group stage of Europe's elite club competition.
Leverkusen's 2-0 victory over Bayern last time out kept them within two points of Monchengladbach with three games left to play, and many are dubbing Saturday's clash 'the battle for third'.
"We know we’ve got to get a result at Gladbach but it’s in our own hands," said Leverkusen full-back Roberto Hilbert. "There is no shortage of confidence."
There is still a possibility both sides could finish in the top three, of course, with second-placed Wolfsburg's league campaign having tailed off with a winless run of three.
Dieter Hecking's men - set to meet Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final on May 30 - will be hopeful of halting their poor run of form at struggling Paderborn this weekend.
A top-four finish is beyond the reach of fifth-placed Schalke, who currently lead the race for UEFA Europa League qualification and visit Cologne on Sunday.
Augsburg - two points adrift of Schalke - occupy the second Europa League spot ahead of their trip to champions Bayern, while Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim head the chasing pack.
Bremen head to Hannover on Saturday, while Hoffenheim are on the road at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Ninth-placed Borussia Dortmund would seal a continental berth with victory over Wolfsburg in the cup final later this month, but will want to give themselves every chance of qualifying through the league by beating Hertha Berlin at Signal Iduna Park.
At the bottom end of the league, the situation looks increasingly bleak for Stuttgart, although they will not be relegated this weekend.
The Bundesliga's basement club are four points adrift of guaranteed safety and host Mainz, while Freiburg - current occupants of the relegation play-off spot - kick off the weekend's action at Hamburg on Friday.
Hannover occupy the second spot in the drop zone, but are three points better off than Stuttgart.