Leverkusen tangles with Schalke in important Euro clash

With Bayern Munich having already secured the Bundesliga title in record fashion, the attention in Germany now turns to the race for Champions League places.

Second-place Borussia Dortmund holds a six-point lead on third-place Bayer Leverkusen and looks to be a safe bet to secure a spot in Europe's premier club competition next season.

But after that, there is much to play for.

Bayer Leverkusen has the inside track on third place, but the club faces a big test at fourth-place Schalke on Saturday.

Leverkusen leads Schalke by four points, but that lead has been reduced from 11 points in recent weeks by Jens Keller's team, which has won five of its last six games.

But despite Leverkusen having won just once in its last four games, captain Simon Rolfes feels that the pressure rests with Schalke.

"If a team is under pressure, it is only Schalke," Rolfes told kicker. "If we win the match, end of story. The other way round? Certainly not. But they cannot overtake us on that day, and that is a psychological advantage for us."

Leverkusen manager Sami Hyypia has said his team is not interested in looking over its shoulder, but the boss will be without defenders Stefan Reinartz and Sebastian Boensich for Saturday's clash, while midfielder Gonzalo Castro is doubtful with a groin injury.

Bayern Munich begins its victory tour on Saturday with a home game against mid-table Nurnberg, while Dortmund looks to strengthen its hold on second place by claiming three points at last-place Greuther Furth, which has won just twice in 28 league games this season.

On Friday, Freiburg moved level with Schalke on 45 points as the club secured a 3-1 win over Hannover with goals from Max Kruse and Jonathan Schmid to break a 1-1 deadlock.

Monchengladbach continues its European pursuit with a trip to Stuttgart on Sunday, while Eintracht's own chase for a European place takes the club to relegation-battling Augsburg.

Also on Saturday, Werder Bremen visits a Dusseldorf side that sits five points clear of the relegation places, Mainz entertains Hamburg and Hoffenheim tries to continue its push for survival as the club has claimed seven points from its last four games and visits Wolfsburg.