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Bundesliga priorities vary as Bayern lick wounds

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25 Apr 2014 00:31:58

Bundesliga priorities vary as Bayern lick wounds

Bayern Munich may have ensured there was little suspense in the destination of the Bundesliga title this season but the battle for European places and the fight to avoid relegation rages on.

The pick of the weekend ties takes place on Saturday when Borussia Dortmund travel to the BayArena where fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen have a chance to move within one point of Schalke and the final automatic Champions League spot.

Schalke, who were humbled 9-2 by Real Madrid in the last-16 in March, will attempt to stave off Leverkusen and rejoin Bayern and Dortmund in next season's competition when they host Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday.

Wolfsburg, who have appeared in the Champions League just once during the 2009-10 campaign, are also tracking Leverkusen and Schalke and trail fourth spot with a qualifying place well within their grasp.

The Europa League, where Wolfsburg were beaten by Fulham in the 2010 quarter-finals, is another possibility with Moenchengladbach and Mainz favourites to join them.

The bottom of the table is equally intriguing with Eintracht Braunschweig, Nuremburg and third from bottom Hamburg facing anxious finales to their respective campaigns.

Hamburg, who have never been relegated from the top flight, are on the road at eighth-placed Augsburg, trailing Stuttgart by four points.

With Nuremburg just one point back, Hamburg will be more concerned with protecting their place in the table which will give them a two-legged relegation play-off against the third placed team in division two.

Nuremberg's destiny is out of their own hands and a trip to Mainz is hardly a three point banker that could lift them out of one of the two automatic relegation spots.

Braunschweig's plight is equally perilous as they lie two points behind Hamburg and facing a trip to mid-table Hertha Berlin, who have little to play for.

Bayern Munich will field a much weakened lineup for their home fixture against Werder Bremen as Pep Guardiola prepares for their Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

The defending European champions dominated their hosts at the Santiago Bernabeu in midweek but were undone by a Karim Benzema goal which puts them on the brink of elimination.

Veteran striker Claudio Pizarro is set to start up front while right-back Rafinha will sit the match out with suspension having been sent off in the 3-0 defeat to Dortmund a fortnight ago.

"There is still everything to play for," said Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after the 1-0 defeat in Madrid.

"Together with our fans, we want to make sure we do it."

"Heads up," said Arjen Robben.

"We need to stay calm and positive and that's what we all said straight away after the match and we all know that it's still possible.

"We definitely have the quality to score two goals at home," said captain Philipp Lahm.

Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated):

Friday

Hannover v Stuttgart (1830)

Saturday

Mainz v Nuremberg, Hoffenheim v Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg v Freiburg, Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund (1630)

Sunday

Augsburg v Hamburg (1330), Schalke v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1530)


AFP

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