Bayern counting down games to Bundesliga title

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 6, 2014 at 6:30 am •  Published: March 6, 2014
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BERLIN (AP) — The Bundesliga is all but decided.

Bayern Munich, which visits Wolfsburg on Saturday, is playing in a league of its own with Borussia Dortmund 20 points off the pace.

Eight teams are fighting against relegation, with three six-pointers taking place Saturday between Stuttgart and Eintracht Braunschweig, Hamburger SV and Eintracht Frankfurt, and Nuremberg and Werder Bremen.

Dortmund will visit another relegation candidate, Freiburg, on Sunday.

Here are five things to know about this weekend's matches:

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HAMBURG HEX

Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka is struggling to get 11 players together for his side's clash with Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

The club's injury worries were exacerbated by the international break. Defender Marcell Jansen has been ruled out for several weeks after tearing a ligament in his left ankle in Germany's 1-0 win over Chile, while striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga returned from his first national call-up before Wednesday's game with muscle problems.

Slomka also has injury concerns over Rafael van der Vaart (flu), Milan Badelj (broken hand), Hakan Calhanoglu, Petr Jiracek and Ivo Ilicevic (all thigh strains), Lasse Sobiech (concussion) and Lam Zhi Gin (groin problems). Replacement goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny and midfielder Kerem Demirbay have not yet recovered from hamstring injuries. Maximilian Beister and Slobodan Rajkovic are both ruled out to the end of the season with cruciate ligament injuries.

Hamburg snapped its seven-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in Slomka's debut, but lost the northern derby to Werder Bremen last weekend and remains in the relegation playoff place.

"It's about pure survival," Hamburg goalkeeper Rene Adler said. "In the coming two home games we must mix aggression with playing football again."

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LAST CHANCE

Thomas Schneider has one game to save his job.

His Stuttgart side has lost eight in a row and another defeat against Eintracht Braunschweig would see the bottom side draw level.

Stuttgart's board of management decided to stick with the 41-year-old Schneider on Tuesday.

"The advisory committee is 100 percent behind this decision," said Stuttgart president Bernd Wahler, despite media reports suggesting Thorsten Fink, Zvonimir Soldo, Krasimir Balakov, Ralf Rangnick and Huub Stevens were all being considered as possible replacements.

Braunschweig's lowest point in the season came in the 4-0 home loss to Stuttgart in September, but the promoted side has recovered from the worst ever start to a Bundesliga season and still believes it can avoid the drop.

"It did look a lot worse," said Braunschweig coach Torsten Lieberknecht, who recently extended his contract to 2017. "Stuttgart as a direct rival (for relegation) — for it to have come so far was unthinkable after the reverse fixture."

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