On a jam-packed Saturday schedule, there’s a Rhine derby, a top-two clash and a whole host of sides trying to make sure of survival ahead of the final game of the season.As is customary, the last two matchdays of the Bundesliga season see all 18 teams play at the same time. With the race for Europe and survival equally tense, the penultimate matchday is full of important games.
Cologne take the 20 minute journey to Leverkusen in a fixture that normally sees Bayer send the Billy Goats a painful reminder of who will be representing their region in Europe next season, but the roles have been reversed this time around. Leverkusen have had a torrid season and are on the fringes of a relegation battle, while Cologne are within touching distance of European football next season.
“If you think the same number of teams playing against relegation are also playing for Europe, then we’re delighted we’re in the top half of that,” Peter Stöger said in the press conference before the game. His side, currently in seventh, is looking to do more than just finish a third straight Bundesliga season in a higher spot than the previous campaign. They want want to make sure that spot is enough for the Europa League.
A win would likely remove Leverkusen from the relegation picture, but given that Tayfun Korkut’s side have the worst form in the league in the last five games (just two points collected in that time) and have scored only three goals, it would be a surprise if Cologne’s Anthony Modeste doesn’t add to his 25 goals in a win for the visitors.
A marker for the future?
Long-tipped to potentially be a title decider, Bayern’s trip to Leipzig has lost a lot of its edge after Bayern wrapped up the title two weeks ago in Wolfsburg. Nevertheless, Uli Hoeness had something to say this week about Leipzig’s attempt at rivaling Bayern and Leipzig head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl said his side want revenge for their drubbing by Bayern earlier in the season.
Beyond the usual noise surrounding both clubs, this game is also an opportunity for Bayern head coach Carlo Ancelotti to test out some of the minute-hungry members of his squad – Renato Sanches, Joshua Kimmich and Douglas Costa are three names that instantly spring to mind. But whether two sets of 90 minutes will be enough to keep them at the club over the summer remains a topic of discussion.
Even though there’s nothing to play for in the table, expect this one to be fast-paced and entertaining. Leipzig will want to prove a point, and Bayern will want to remind them who is still the boss.
Two teams have seemingly ended their season prematurely, coasting towards a warm summer and a break from football. Schalke and Frankfurt are the only two sides who look in no real danger of getting relegated but also have only a distance chance of a European spot.
But they will could still play a deciding role in the relegation battle. Schalke host Hamburg, while Frankfurt travel to Mainz. While Markus Weinzierl’s side remain more unpredictable than any other in the league, Mainz will be buoyed by the fact their opponent has to dig a little deeper to find that motivation.
Matchday 33 fixtures (Saturday 1530 CEST)
Leverkusen vs. Cologne
Schalke vs. Hamburg
Mainz vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Wolfsburg vs. Gladbach
Augsburg vs. Dortmund
Werder Bremen vs. Hoffenheim
Darmstadt vs. Hertha
Freiburg vs. Ingolstadt
Leipzig vs. Bayern