bundesliga.com analyses the chances of the six teams still searching for European football with Part One focusing on the contenders Schalke, Frankfurt, Freiburg, who have it all to lose. Part two will look at the pretenders HSV, Gladbach and Hannover.
When the stakes are high, Jens Keller’s men are always there. Against Hamburg (4-1) and in Mönchengladbach (1-0), Schalke picked up the points that mattered against their nearest rivals to consolidate fourth position. And S04 are a force to be reckoned with at home as well: Keller’s team have picked up 13 out of a possible 15 points in their last five encounters at the Veltins Arena , including salvaging a draw against Bayer 04 Leverkusen having been 2-0 down. What’s more, they also have Klaas-Jan Huntelaar´(pictured) back, and in form.
Form: W - D - L - W - W
Remaining games: Stuttgart (H), Freiburg (A)
Prediction: A place in the UEFA Champions League is really only Schalke’s to lose. A win against a Stuttgart side, who have their minds on other things, would practically secure fourth in view of their goal difference (+8).
"We’re pretty much down to the bones," said coach Armin Veh (pictured) after his side’s three points against Fortuna Düsseldorf, even though they have picked up seven out of a possible nine points recently with a squad decimated by injury. "We don't have to be in the Europa League, but that's where we want to be," explained Veh of his side's ambitions. Frankfurt are pinning their hopes on Alexander Meier. Their 15-goal hitman was instrumental against Fortuna, scoring his fourth brace of the season. Furthermore they won their last two games of the first half of the season against both SV Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg.
Form: L - L - W - D - W
Remaining games: Bremen (A), Wolfsburg (H)
Prediction: The promoted side have found the right gear at just the right time. The game against Bremen will be a test of character, but they should be able to wrap up their place in Europe against Wolfsburg.
Freiburg have also turned things around and moved into gear against Augsburg. Though they know
Daniel Caligiuri, Jan Rosenthal, Max Kruse (pictured) and Johannes Flum will all be leaving in the summer, the deaprting players are giving everything for their current team. Another win against relegated Greuther Fürth would be enough for Christian Streich’s men to qualify for the Europa League given their superior goal difference over their closest rivals (+5). Should Schalke slip up against Stuttgart, then the Black Forest outfit could even be playing their for a place in the UEFA Champions League against the Royal Blues.
Form: W - W - L - L - W
Remaining games: Fürth (A), Schalke (H)
Prediction: If Freiburg remain focused, they should wrap up a place in the Europa League against Fürth. More than that would be sensational, but not impossible. Freiburg did win in Schalke in the first half of the season after all.