Published November 20, 2014
Hannover can lock up the final European berth from the Bundesliga at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, and Monchengladbach and Schalke continue their battle for direct Champions League qualification.
With Borussia Dortmund already secured of a second successive title, Champions League finalist Bayern Munich locked into second, and Kaiserslautern set to go down, the focus entering the next-to-last week is European spots and the drop.
Hannover will try to secure the final European place still in question when it travels to Leverskuen. With Dortmund and Bayern in the DFB Pokal Cup final, it opened a third Europa spot from Germany, which has all of its games Saturday.
Although Hannover has struggled of late, losing two of its last four, it still has the pole position for seventh - and the third Europa place - with a three- point lead over Werder Bremen.
"We want to pick up points again at long last," Hannover coach Mirko Slomka said. "We need to fight for every centimeter of ground and hope for situations where we can exploit our strengths on the counter-attack."
Leverkusen has put together a four-game unbeaten streak to solidify its place, but could still catch Stuttgart for fifth and direct qualification in to group play. Sixth and seventh enter the tournament in the qualifying rounds.
"We're only looking ahead and we'll do everything we can to secure sixth place - and then we'll go for fifth," Bayer Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia.
Stuttgart faces Bayern on Saturday, and the Munich side just locked up a berth in the Champions League final, which will be played in its own Allianz Arena, on Wednesday. Stuttgart is unbeaten in 10 straight.
Werder Bremen visits Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim hosts Nurnberg on Saturday, with all four still alive in the Europa chase.
Dortmund has little to play for, but with a league unbeaten streak of 26 games and the Pokal final on the horizon, there will be no reason for Jurgen Klopp's to take Kaiserslautern lightly this week.
Elsewhere near the top, third-place Schalke hosts relegation-threatened Hertha Berlin and Monchengladbach hosts in-danger Augsburg. Schalke is winless in its last three, and holds just a two-point cushion. Gladbach, which has sold off a number of stars, could use third place as a reason to add players this summer.
Third place qualifies for Champions League group play, while fourth faces the tough qualification phase for non-champions.
Hertha, six points from safety, needs two wins and for Augsburg to drop a pair of matches over the next two weeks, to have any shot of assuring survival. But it is still just two points behind Cologne for 16th and a relegation playoff.
Augsburg is in much better shape, as it can secure its survival with a win and even a loss could be enough, should the right results happen in other games.
Cologne is winless in seven straight ahead of its visit Freiburg, and Hamburg, still mathematically in danger, hosts Mainz in its quest for survival. Hamburg would need two losses and teams below it to win, or it will avoid the drop.