The battle for fourth place, and with it, Champions League qualification, will go down to the final day. - © 2019 DFL
The battle for fourth place, and with it, Champions League qualification, will go down to the final day. - © 2019 DFL
bundesliga

Gladbach, Leverkusen, Frankfurt and Wolfsburg in four-way battle royale for fourth place

With only one round of fixtures remaining, four teams are still in with a chance of snatching the Bundesliga's final ticket for the group stage of next season's UEFA Champions League: Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg.

With only three points separating the sides and three more up for grabs, the battle royale to finish in fourth place could easily go down to the very last kick of the season. Ahead of 90 nail-biting minutes for their supporters, bundesliga.com profiles the four contenders…

Borussia Mönchengladbach (4th, 55 points, +15 goal difference)

The Foals galloped out of the blocks at the start of the season and their home form in particular – nine consecutive wins at the Borussia-Park – put them in third place over the winter break. Thorgan Hazard, Lars Stindl and summer signing Alassane Plea dovetailed seemingly effortlessly in the final third and by the halfway stage, only then leaders Borussia Dortmund had scored more (44) than Gladbach's 36 goals.

Dieter Hecking's side picked up where they had left off at the start of 2019, winning their first two games, but things started to unravel after their first home defeat of the season, a 3-0 reverse to Hertha Berlin on Matchday 21. Since then Gladbach have taken maximum points only three times. Hazard and Plea have not quite maintained the same devastating form and Stindl has been ruled out for the season with a leg fracture.

Outbound coach Hecking will be keen to leave on a high note, however, and has got his side into fourth place going into the final day after beating now-relegated Nuremberg 4-0. The return of their goalscoring ways could not come at a better time as the final day of the campaign sees them take on a Dortmund side who still have a chance of securing their first Bundesliga title since 2012.

Gladbach will be looking to Thorgan Hazard to help them overcome Dortmund on the final day. - getty images

Bayer Leverkusen (5th, 55 points, +13 goal difference)

No questions about the Bundesliga's form team as we reach the business end of another spectacular season. Even before their record-breaking 6-1 win over Frankfurt, Leverkusen had hauled themselves back into European contention with successive victories over VfB Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Augsburg, and they have vastly improved their goal difference by scoring 14 goals and conceding just three in their last five outings.

Peter Bosz's side will have been frustrated not to get the better of Schalke last time out, playing out a 1-1 home draw despite dominating for large spells of the game. In their final outing, Leverkusen travel to the capital to take on Hertha Berlin, who only recently snapped an eight-game winless streak and let in three goals in their thrilling victory over Freiburg.

With his attacking quartet of Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt, Lucas Alario and Kevin Volland in ominous form, Bosz will be confident that Die Werkself can round things out in style and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2016/17, when they were knocked out in the last 16 by Atletico Madrid. Buoyed by their six-star performance against the Eagles and with a more straightforward final-day assignment than Gladbach, the Rhinelanders are in an excellent position to make their return to Europe's top table.

Watch: Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, Europe's best young midfielder

Eintracht Frankfurt (6th, 54 points, +16 goal difference)

On Matchday 33, Frankfurt's chances of reaching the Champions League for the first time in 59 years took a serious blow as they fell to a 2-0 home defeat against Mainz. The Eagles have been dreaming of a return to the continental elite ever since losing the 1960 European Cup final to Real Madrid, but their fate is out of their hands going into the final day.

An exhilarating but exhausting campaign has clearly taken its toll on Adi Hütter's side. On Sunday, Frankfurt played their 49th game of 2018/19 in all competitions, just three days after losing a penalty shoot-out to Chelsea in an energy-sapping UEFA Europa League semi-final tie. That is five more than the next-busiest club in this list, Leverkusen, and a whopping 14 more than fourth-placed Gladbach.

Die Adler have now failed to win in five league outings and were thrashed 6-1 by Leverkusen on Matchday 22, one of their heaviest-ever defeats in the German top flight. Frankfurt have been rightly lauded for their attacking verve this term – with Hütter helping stars like Luka Jovic to shine at the highest level – but they will have to dig deep as they travel to Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday, needing a win and results elsewhere to go their way.

Watch: Tifo analysis of Frankfurt's chief goal-getter, Luka Jovic

Wolfsburg (7th, 52 points, +5 goal difference)

Wolfsburg only just survived via the relegation play-offs in 2016/17 and 2017/18, so the fact that they have been vying for Champions League qualification this year is a remarkable achievement, and a measure of their outstanding progress. Bruno Labbadia has forged a highly competitive side, with John Brooks marshalling the defence, summer signing Jerome Roussillon and fellow full-back William joining the attacks at every opportunity, and powerful striker Wout Weghorst leading from the front.

Unfortunately, a 3-0 loss to Stuttgart on Matchday 33 has all but ended the Wolves' hopes of a top-four finish, even if it is still mathematically possible. Not only would they have to destroy Augsburg on the final day, but the three teams above them would also have to suffer heavy defeats. Then again, given the mind-boggling comebacks we have seen in this season's Champions League, Wolfsburg will no doubt give it their best shot, no matter how slim the odds.

Watch: Wout Weghorst had a hand in all five goals as Wolfsburg thrashed Düsseldorf on Matchday 26