Borussia Dortmund may have to wait another week to lift the Bundesliga title if Bayer Leverkusen have their way again this weekend.
Dortmund had to put the champagne on ice after falling at relegation-threatened Borussia Monchengladbach last Saturday, while Leverkusen defeated Hoffenheim.
That narrowed the gap between the top-placed club and their closest challenger to five points, ensuring Leverkusen’s slim hopes of stealing the trophy remained alive.
Dortmund can still clinch their first league title since 2002 if they defeat visiting Nurnberg and Leverkusen lose or draw at Cologne on Saturday, though on paper this appears unlikely.
Firstly, Nurnberg, sixth on the table, will be desperate for points as they attempt to wrest a Europa League berth from Mainz, who are two points away in fifth.
Secondly, Cologne are slumping abysmally in the run-in to the season’s end – losing five of their last seven – and will be under new direction from sporting director Volker Finke after coach Frank Schaefer ended his tenure early amid the spectre of death threats.
Earlier, St Pauli will fear taking a step closer to relegation on Friday when they visit Kaiserslautern, who sit mid-table with 37 points.
But the bottom-placed club can take some comfort in knowing Kaiserslautern have been less than spectacular at home, winning just one of their eight league fixtures at the Fritz-Walter-Stadion.
Also on Friday, relegation-threatened Wolfsburg make the trip to the improved Werder Bremen, who have gone unbeaten through their last eight matches.
On Saturday, Hannover’s hopes of holding on to their Champions League berth will no doubt be lifted by a visit from second-bottom Monchengladbach, who are equal on points with St Pauli but still a chance of escaping the drop zone if they can pull out another unlikely victory.
Bayern Munich, one point behind Hannover and their main threat to third place, will welcome a bruised Schalke outfit still reeling from their 2-0 Champions League semi-final loss to Manchester United on Tuesday.
Mainz, who occupy the final Europe place on the table, welcome relegation-threatened Eintracht Frankfurt to the Stadion am Bruchweg in a match that could have dire implications for both.
Mainz may find themselves displaced by Nurnberg should the latter find a way past Dortmund, while Frankfurt could slip into the drop zone should Wolfsburg take the points at the Weserstadion.
Finally, seventh-placed Hamburg’s slim hopes of a Europe berth rest on a visit from Freiburg, two points behind in eighth, while mid-table sides Hoffenheim and Stuttgart battle it out at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
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