Dortmund are out to cement second place against bottom club Fürth
Dortmund are out to cement second place against bottom club Fürth

So much at stake on Matchday 29

Munich - The Bundesliga championship may have changed hands ahead of schedule but make no mistake, there is still plenty to play for before the curtain comes down on the 2012/13 campaign.

Greuther Fürth - Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have business to attend to at the top, European football is on the minds of 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Hamburger SV, while Greuther Fürth, 1899 Hoffenheim, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Werder Bremen go into Matchday 29 all fighting, to various degrees, for their Bundesliga lives (Saturday, 15:30 CET).

Fürth's chances of beating the drop now are slim to say the least, but they can at least keep their basement counterparts sweating a little longer with a surprise result against second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

And for head coach Frank Kramer that, not to mention notching a maiden home win of the season, all boils down to faith: "I believe we can win at home. If that wasn't the case, we'd take the afternoon off. If none of us think we can win, there's no point in turning up on Saturday."


Simply turning up, though, is never quite enough against the might of Dortmund. The Yellow-Blacks, who are without the injured Marco Reus, travel to the Trolli Arena riding the crest of a wave following their dramatic UEFA Champions League quarter-final triumph over Malaga CF and, despite relinquishing their Bundesliga crown to FC Bayern München days earlier, can now look forward to a semi-final date with Real MadridCF .

"I'm thrilled we know who we'll face," said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp. "I can't stress enough just what a tough side Real Madrid are, [but] we still have targets in the Bundesliga" - namely securing an automatic spot in Europe's elite club competition for the second season running.

VfL Wolfsburg - 1899 Hoffenheim

A DFB Cup semi-final date with Bayern looms large for VfL Wolfsburg, but not before the Wolves get their teeth into Markus Gisdol's relegation-battling 1899 Hoffenheim.

With the game against the newly-crowned Bundesliga champions just days away, VfL coach Dieter Hecking has warned his side to focus all their attention on Saturday's rejuvenated visitors: "1899 will give it everything [...] we want to continue our four-game unbeaten run with a win."

"Like bees"

Said run looks to have all but secured the Wolves' Bundesliga status for another season, with the club nine points clear of the relegation play-off spot and still harbouring slender hopes of throwing their name into the European hat by way of the league, trailing sixth-place Eintracht Frankfurt by the same margin.

Midfield architect Diego has played his part in Hecking's steadying of the ship - something that hasn't gone unnoticed by Hoffenheim newcomer Gisdol: "We can't allow him space to manoeuvre. I want to see us apply the same basic tactics that we did against Düsseldorf. We're going to swarm them like bees!"

1. FSV Mainz 05 - Hamburger SV

The race for the Bundesliga's European places looks set to go right to the wire, with as many as eight teams vying for a slot in next season's UEFA Europa League, eighth- and eleventh-placed Mainz and Hamburg included.

"Mainz are a good team. They have an excellent stadium, and incredible fans," said new HSV captain Rafael van der Vaart. "It's unbelievably difficult to beat them. In order to have a chance we'll need a transformation from how we've played in the last few weeks."

"Put things right"

Successive defeats to FC Augsburg, FC Bayern Munich and SC Freiburg have asked serious questions of Hamburg's European credentials but as they've shown in twice beating Borussia Dortmund, on their day, they are more than capable of mixing it with the very best.

A warning of sorts, then, for a Mainz side stuck in a mini-rut of their own, having won only twice since the turn of the year. "We need get back to what we were doing a few weeks ago [against Leverkusen]", explained coach Thomas Tuchel. "There's been this sort of build-up - not of frustration, but rather a will to put things right."

Fortuna Düsseldorf - Werder Bremen

The days of Fortuna's ESPRIT Arena being a much-feared fortress are long gone, with the club now sat periously close to the bottom three. Life post-winter has not been much kinder to injury-plagued Bremen either, Thomas Schaaf's men travelling to Düsseldorf looking to end a seven-match winless streak.

"We're seriously hamstrung by the number of players at our disposal," lamented Green-Whites coach Schaaf. Aaron Hunt is the latest casualty, the former Germany international joining Niclas Füllkrug, Joseph Akpala, Lukas Schmitz, Clemens Fritz, Mehmet Ekici and Aleksandar Ignjovski in Bremen's now oversubscribed treatment room.

"Keep going"

A personnel crisis Fortuna simply must take advantage of, after going into something of a tailspin themselves in recent weeks. Only Fürth and VfB Stuttgart have accrued fewer points since the turn of the year - a situation which, with six games left of the season, makes Saturday's clash even more decisive.

"Of course we could [take a great step towards staying up with a win over Bremen]," said coach Norbert Meier: "but I'm not getting caried away. If you'd told us at the start of the season we'd have a five-point head start on the relegation places, we'd have snapped your hand off. People might have thought we were safe with 21 points at the halfway stage of the season, but we know that's not the case. We have to keep going."

Christopher Mayer-Lodge