Makoto Hasebe has all the inside information as 1. FC Nürnberg look for their first win of the season against his former side VfL Wolfsburg
Makoto Hasebe has all the inside information as 1. FC Nürnberg look for their first win of the season against his former side VfL Wolfsburg

Key encounters in the survival stakes on Saturday's agenda

Munich - To warm things up ahead of Der Klassiker, three other Bundesliga clashes on Saturday afternoon promise their fair share of drama and excitement.

1. FC Nürnberg - VfL Wolfsburg

Particularly those hoping to have the honour of playing Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern again next season are involved in some intriguing encounters, summarised by

Japan's could hold the key to 1. FC Nürnberg's first win in the Bundesliga this season as he gives his current team the lowdown on their next opponents Wolfsburg. Hasebe switched sides in the summer, and knowing "everything there is to know about Wolfsburg", was keen "to pass all of that on to the players and my coach."

Knowledge may be vital, but putting what he knows into practice is another thing. The 29-year-old has nevertheless vowed to try. "Of course this is not a game like any other for me, but there will not be any friendship on the field," he said. "I am now a 1. FC Nürnberg player." And, as such, he will be looking to get one over his former team mates.

Hecking's high hopes

While he may have insider information to give his coach Gertjan Verbeek, few know Nürnberg better than Wolves' coach Dieter Hecking. He ended a three-year successful stint in charge last December by defecting to the north. Looking to extend a four-game winning streak, he too cannot show any sympathy towards his ex-club.

"Of course I hope Nürnberg stay up, but we want to beat them on Saturday," he said. "Friendship is on ice for 90 minutes." A win for the Wolves would continue their surge towards a berth in the UEFA Champions League which Hecking suggested could well be a realistic aim, even if "seven or eight clubs" share their ambition.

FC Augsburg - 1899 Hoffenheim

has the chance of reaching a landmark this Saturday when FC Augsburg host 1899 Hoffenheim with both teams keen on the points to move away from the bottom three.

The 30-year-old could equal Yildiray Bastürk's record as the Turkish player with the most appearances in the top flight of German football should he appear in an Augsburg shirt for the 13th time. This weekend would mark his 249th Bundesliga presence, and coach Markus Weinzierl is likely to oblige. "Halil is important for us," he said. "With his experience and with the responsibility he takes off the field, he is an important part of our team."

Faith in Modeste

Augsburg could do with his goals to earn them only a second win in eight matches. Hoffenheim, meanwhile, are counting on Anthony Modeste to hit form again as they look to return to winning ways after losing three of their last four.

The Frenchman made a blistering start to the season with six goals in the first seven games, but he has not found the back of the net since. "I don't worry too much about statistics," said his coach Markus Gisdol. "It's only a question of time before he scores again. What's important for him is that he remains cool. I assess our strikers on what they do for the team, and he's doing well."

Eintracht Braunschweig - SC Freiburg

SC Freiburg coach Christian Streich has vowed to "keep Braunschweig busy" when they head to Lower Saxony on Saturday for what promises to be an intriguing relegation battle between two sides locked on eight points.

"It's important that we go into the game with a good feeling," Streich told Kicker magazine. "We've got to attack and take the basics seriously, attack them fairly, not leave them much room and help one another." Sounds simple? "This is the way things are in Freiburg, for as long as I've known them," added Streich. "And we've done extraordinarily well like this in recent decades."

Fitness doubts

Indeed, their work ethic is what Braunschweig coach Torsten Lieberknecht is most concerned about. "I'm definitely going to get my team ready for a game in which they'll have to run a lot because Freiburg are one of the best in the league when it comes to this," he warned.

Lieberknecht hopes to have available to spearhead his side's attack. "We'll have to see after a recovery day today and then our final training session tomorrow," said the Braunschweig coach. "It's going to be a race against time whether some players are fit or not. At the end of the day, we've got to be fit."