It was an impressive fightback from FC Koln at Schalke last weekend, coming from two down at home to snatch a point against the side at the top end of the table. Stefan Ruthenbeck would have been pleased with that display, but the bottom line is that Koln didn’t leave the foot of the table.
In fact, that draw, however commendable, leaves them eight points off the relegation play-off spot with three games. The bad news is that well, quite obviously they’re on the tethers on what, for the whole season, has seemed like an inevitable relegation. The only sliver of good news, even that is debatable, is that they face the team occupying that relegation play-off spot.
Freiburg have also had a slog of a season. Christian Streich and his side are currently 16th, the position that means a battle with the third-placd team in the second tier to determine your faith. The form guide doesn’t make good reading for them, no wins in seven. So, as they play host to Effzeh this weekend, they hope to buck that trend, and bag a result that would at least prevent automatic relegation.
Koln aren’t in that good a stead either, just one win in their last eight games. A win here, though, and they are back in with a shout of survival, all while putting pressure on their hosts, even though they need a perfect end to the season to stand a chance. Anything less than three points, however, and the curtain falls on their campaign. This time last season they were about to secure European football. How time flies.
Elsewhere, it’s a sense of upcoming familiarity, as Niko Kovac comes to his future home ground of the Allianz Arena. His current side, Frankfurt, still have European aspirations to make come good, so any sense of occasion will have to be binned for now. Hamburg visit Wolfsburg, aiming for a win to close the gap on the 15th-placed side to two and pull off another escape.
Schalke host Borussia Monchengladbach, Leipzig travel to Mainz, Leverkusen hope to recover from their mauling at Dortmund last weekend as they host Stuttgart, while Dortmund themselves are at Werder Bremen, who have been in stupendous form at home since their managerial change.
Freiburg v Koln
Werder Bremen v Dortmund
Schalke v Monchengladbach
Leverkusen v Stuttgart
Main v RB Leipzig
Bayern Munich v Frankfurt
Hertha BSC v Augsburg
Hoffenheim v Hannover
Wolfsburg v Hamburg