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Relegation battles take center stage in Bundesliga

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 3, 2014 at 6:55 am •  Published: April 3, 2014

BERLIN (AP) — The relegation battle takes center stage in the Bundesliga as the season enters its final phase. Eintracht Braunschweig, Hamburger SV, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Freiburg and Hannover are all in danger of the drop, with just seven points between the sides with six games still to play. Bayern Munich, which has already wrapped up the title in record time, aims to maintain its unbeaten run and will use Saturday's Bavarian derby against Augsburg to prepare for Wednesday's Champions League quarterfinal return leg against Manchester United. Here are five things to know about the Bundesliga's 29th round of games:



On the verge of exiting the Champions League after Wednesday's 3-0 quarterfinal first-leg defeat at Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund is struggling to stay positive after an underwhelming season to date. Only the German Cup remains a realistic target for Juergen Klopp's side. Second place in the Bundesliga is a minimum requirement but scant consolation for finishing so far behind Bayern for the second season in a row. The gap was 25 points last season. It's 23 now with six games to play.

Dortmund can stop Bayern's bid to become the first side to complete a Bundesliga season unbeaten by winning in Munich next week but "schadenfreude" would seem petty in an inconsistent season. Terrible luck with injuries has played its part, to be fair to Klopp's side, but the knowledge that top striker Robert Lewandowski is joining Bayern next season is unlikely to improve the mood.

Lewandowski scored four goals in one game against Madrid last season. All would be forgiven if he did it again in Tuesday's second leg.



Wolfsburg harbors dreams of being among "the best of the rest" behind Bayern and has spent more than 200 million euros ($275 million) on new players over the past five seasons to qualify for Europe. The Volkswagen-backed club is currently fifth, just one point off Bayer Leverkusen in the last Champions League qualification place.

"We want to take the chance and finish fourth," said Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking, whose side visits Dortmund on Saturday.

Wolfsburg, the 2009 Bundesliga champion, has the opportunity to return to the Champions League due to Leverkusen's poor form. Leverkusen was second but an alarming slump — just five points from eight league games — has given Wolfsburg the encouragement it needs.



Last week's 1-1 draw with bottom side Braunschweig may have increased the pressure on Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia, but Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka is trying to stave off relegation. Hamburg is the only club to have played every season of the Bundesliga since the league was formed in 1963 and Slomka's players are under immense pressure to prevent its first relegation.

Slomka said last week the situation was "ominous" after a 3-1 defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach left his side just two points above last-placed Braunschweig.

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