Hertha Berlin battles for survival against Hoffe

Hertha Berlin coach Otto Rehhagel said the club's "fans deserve Bundesliga football," but the side faces a tough task to remain in Germany's top flight.

Hertha needs a win Saturday over Hoffenheim at Olympic Stadium, where it has lost four straight matches, just to have any chance of survival. On 28 points and 17th, Hertha is two points behind Cologne entering the final day.

While Hertha can hope Champions League finalist Bayern Munich aids the capital club with a win - or even a draw - at Cologne, Rehhagel must still produce the club's seventh win of the season.

Even then, Hertha would only climb just one spot and face a relegation playoff against the third-place finisher from the Bundesliga 2.

"The Hertha fans deserve Bundesliga football, they are unique. Every time they come to the stadium hoping to see us win," Rehhagel said, "and we want to give something back and win for them."

Hertha has never lost five straight home Bundesliga matches, but a six-fixture winless skid does not bode well ahead of the match with mid-table Hoffenheim.

Although Hoffe has nothing to play for on the final day of the season, manager Markus Babbel has a score to settle with his former club.

"I want to win there, whatever it takes," said Babbel, who guided Hertha back to the Bundesliga this season, but was fired in December.

Cologne can hope Hertha fails to beat Hoffe, or slay in-form Bayern. Cologne, which will bid farewell to Germany striker Lukas Podolski after his announced transfer to Arsenal, could also take care of its own fate with a win. But even a draw could drop the club in 17th, should Hertha win.

With just two matches before the Champions League final, this week's match at Cologne and the Pokal Cup final against Borussia Dortmund, there is little or no reason for Bayern to rest any players.

In addition to being within reach of tying the league record of fewest goals allowed in a season (21), striker Mario Gomez enters the game one goal behind Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the Golden Boot race.

"Bayern won't be doing us any favors ... I know Jupp Heynckes, he'll be using the game to tune up his team for the DFB Cup final against Dortmund," Cologne coach Frank Schaefer said.

Huntelaar, who has 27 goals, and Schalke have secured third place and a berth in the Champions League next season, and close at Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Bremen still has an outside shot at seventh place and a Europa League berth, but need a win and help. With just two wins in their last 14 league games with Schalke, and winless in eight straight games, that's a tall task this week.

Hannover hosts relegated Kaiserslautern with the pole position on the last of three Europa League berths. Hannover would secure European play with a win and leave Bremen and three other clubs short of a place.

Wolfsburg visits Stuttgart, which can finish fifth or sixth, in need of a win and help to overtake Hannover. Stuttgart is sixth and one point behind Bayer Leverkusen, and fifth place earns a spot in the Europa group stage.

Even 10th-place Nurnberg has an outside shot at the Europa League, but it has to defeat Leverkusen and hope for a lot of help.

At the top, Borussia Dortmund hosts Freiburg within reach of the highest point total in Bundesliga history. With a win, Dortmund would finish with 81 points, eclipsing a mark of 79 points set by Bayern Munich in 1972-73.

In the second half of the season, Dortmund has 44 of a possible 48 points. The champions are unbeaten in 27 straight games, but Freiburg visits on a 10-match unbeaten run.

Also Saturday, Mainz hosts Monchengladbach and Augsburg hosts Hamburg.