Munich - Surviving in the Bundesliga is a marathon at the best of times, but what is already a long, hard slog is set to become even more exhausting for the endangered top-flight clubs looking to prolong their stay in the big-time.

The bottom two clubs will be relegated automatically, with the 16th-placed team set to face the third-placed side in Bundesliga 2 in an all-or-nothing two-legged play-off to be played on 15 and 18 May.

Since the reintroduction of the promotion/relegation play-offs in 2009, top-flight teams have got the better of their lower-league rivals three times, and only 1. FC Nürnberg in the inaugural competition and Fortuna Düsseldorf in 2012 have succeeded in ousting a top-flight opponent over two legs.

Tight at the bottom


Heading into the final four games of the season, VfB Stuttgart, Hamburger SV and Nürnberg seem the likeliest candidates to finish the season in 16th place, although bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig could clamber into the play-off place still, while SC Freiburg, Hannover 96 and SV Werder Bremen could also yet be sucked in.

All seven clubs will have fought a gruelling campaign when the 34th round of matches comes to an end on 10 May, but for one of them, a final hurdle will need to be negotiated against one of the second tier's posse of proud, aspiring clubs battling for the right to face FC Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund and Co. next season.

bundesliga.com takes a look at who they might face…

Greuther Fürth


Current position: 2nd
Current points: 53
Remaining fixtures: SC Paderborn (A), TSV 1860 Munich (H), FC Energie Cottbus (A), SV Sandhausen (H)

Fürth shed their 'also-ran' reputation two seasons ago when they secured a first-ever season in the Bundesliga. Although they lasted only one year in the top flight, they regrouped in the summer and set the early-season pace. Never out of the top three all season, Frank Kramer's men are unbeaten in their last ten, although that includes . More points are needed if they are to follow champions-elect 1. FC Köln into the Bundesliga, and ensure they bounce straight back up.

SC Paderborn 07


Current position: 3rd
Current points: 52
Remaining fixtures: Greuther Fürth (H), SV Sandhausen (H), FC Erzgebirge Aue (A), VfR Aalen (H)

Forever in the shadows of neighbours DSC Arminia Bielefeld, Paderborn have recently emerged to become the leading light in East Westphalia, and Andre Breitenreiter's men are looking to put the region back on the Bundesliga map next season. Following the creation of a new home - - in 2008, the club's fortunes have skyrocketed, and a maiden season in the top flight is on the horizon. They host Fürth on Matchday 31 and play three of their remaining four matches at home. With only two defeats in their last 15 games, their destiny is in their own hands, even without a play-off.

1. FC Kaiserslautern


Current position: 4th
Current points: 47
Remaining fixtures: FSV Frankfurt (H), FC Union Berlin (A), Dynamo Dresden (H), Fortuna Düsseldorf (A)

The Red Devils already know what it feels like to see an entire season's work go to waste in two play-off encounters, drawing the short straw against 1899 Hoffenheim last May. They have recovered well from that disappointment and a last-gasp 3-2 win at FC St. Pauli on Matchday 30 has reignited their promotion push. An advantage for them could be a comparably easy run-in, although they do have five points to make up on their rivals, who meet on Matchday 31. A draw in that game and a win for Kaiserslautern against Frankfurt would take them to within three points of third, and set up a tantalising conclusion to the campaign.

Ben Gladwell

See all the drama of a relegation battle with this compilation of highlights from Matchday 30 in the Bundesliga, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel.