Bundesliga’s blockbuster title race set for more twists and turns on Matchday 33
League leaders FC Bayern München hosting third-placed RB Leipzig in the standout fixture
Four seasons ago, Die Roten Bullen held Bayern to a goalless draw on the penultimate weekend, meaning they had to wait until the final day to secure the Meisterschale. Another stalemate on Saturday evening – following a 1-1 draw in January’s reverse fixture – could have even bigger consequences, with second-placed Borussia Dortmund ready to pounce on any FCB slip-ups.
Then again, BVB have a challenging encounter of their own at FC Augsburg, where they need to snap a four-game winless streak on the road to keep their title hopes alive. Augsburg, who aren’t entirely out of relegation trouble, have only lost this fixture twice in Dortmund’s last six league visits. If they take even a point at the WWK Arena on Sunday, their Bavarian neighbours Bayern will surely go on to land an 11th consecutive Bundesliga crown.
The top two are already guaranteed UEFA Champions League football in 2023-24, and 1. FC Union Berlin will be looking to join them at Europe’s top table for the first time ever. Having beaten top-four rivals SC Freiburg 4-2 last time out, Urs Fischer’s side head to lowly TSG Hoffenheim knowing they only have to better Freiburg’s Friday result against VfL Wolfsburg to make history.
The Wolves will be no pushovers, either, given that they also have European qualification in their sights. Niko Kovac’s pack edged out Hoffenheim last weekend and moved into sixth place on goal difference after Xabi Alonso’s Bayer 04 Leverkusen drew 1-1 at VfB Stuttgart.
Leverkusen will therefore be hoping Wolfsburg stumble before they entertain Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday evening, although Die Werkself will also be feeling the impact of their UEFA Europa League semi-final tie against AS Roma on Thursday.
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No team has yet been officially relegated from the Bundesliga, but Hertha Berlin’s decade-long stay in the top flight could come to an end as they face VfL Bochum 1848 on Saturday. Anything but a win in this huge six-pointer will seal the Old Lady’s fate. Bochum are six points better off in 15th place, and victory in the capital – provided results elsewhere go their way – could see them secure their Bundesliga status for another season.
Stuttgart are the other club who could go down this weekend, if they lose to 1. FSV Mainz 05 and the teams above them win or avoid defeat. VfB avoided the
drop by the skin of their teeth a year ago –thanks to Wataru Endo’s last-gasp winner against 1. FC Köln on the final day – and they may need some similar magic to pull off another great escape.
Eintracht Frankfurt could certainly do them a favour by beating FC Schalke 04 on Saturday, with the Royal Blues still smarting from last week’s 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Bayern. The Eagles will have plenty of motivation as they target a top- seven finish, one of two potential routes into Europe along with their DFB Cup final against Leipzig on 3 June.
Finally, SV Werder Bremen will be seeking mathematical survival when they host mid-table Köln – who are already safe – on the penultimate Saturday of another rollercoaster campaign. The division’s 16-goal top scorer Niclas Füllkrug could well return for Bremen looking to tighten his grip on the Torjägerkanone.
By the time those games kick off, we may already know the identity of one of the teams joining the Bundesliga in 2023-24, because SV Darmstadt 98 have their third shot at securing promotion when they host 1. FC Magdeburg on Friday. On Saturday, 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 could also reach the top flight for the first time if they beat SV Sandhausen – who would therefore be relegated – and Hamburger SV fail to get all three points at home to SpVgg Greuther Fürth.
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