bundesliga.com previews the final instalments of the Matchday 27 action...
Hamburger SV - SC Freiburg
With roughly three quarters of the season now gone, the situation is critical for the sides embroiled in the relegation battle, and few are in deeper trouble as things stand than Hamburg.
Mirko Slomka's HSV come into the game off the back of a narrow yet nonetheless demoralising loss VfB Stuttgart last weekend, and Slomka, shorn of the suspended Hakan Calhanoglu, is now hoping their improved home form can help the Bundesliga ever-presents keep their noses above water: "We're playing in front of our home fans and we know they'll be supporting us as usual. Freiburg are a dangerous team with a complex tactical game."
'A team with two faces'
Freiburg, for their part, are in a better run of form having taken six points from their last two games, away in Frankfurt and at home to SV Werder Bremen. However, this is the first of four matches whose outcome will decide the fate of Christian Streich and his team: after Hamburg they host 1. FC Nürnberg, before travelling to VfB Stuttgart and then entertaining Eintracht Braunschweig.
Supporters will no doubt feel that those are four winnable games, but Streich dared not look beyond the immediate opposition in his pre-match press conference, calling HSV a "team with two faces. If you look at their games against Nürnberg and Dortmund, you'll have seen passion, aggression and organisation. They'll do whatever they can to get in our faces."
1899 Hoffenheim - Hannover 96
Hoffenheim and Hannover meet at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena, with both teams looking to take a huge step towards securing their place in the top flight next season. Six points separate Tayfun Korkut's team from the dreaded drop zone, while Markus Gisdol's Hoffenheim are only three points better off with eight matches of the 2013/14 season remaining.
The Sinsheim-based club, who have conceded more goals than any other Bundesliga team this season, have injury problems in defence, with David Abraham and Niklas Süle both rated as doubtful. However, skipper Sejad Salihovic is likely to return after recovering from a back problem, and Gisdol is confident his team can carry the momentum from their win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen into Wednesday's game. "Things are always a little easier after victories, but Hannover are a good team," said the 44-year-old. "I'm sure they'll be challenging for Europe again next season."
Rudnevs to return
Korkut, who took over from Mirko Slomka in January, knows what to expect from opponents who have scored almost as many goals (57) as they have conceded (58) this season. "Hoffenheim are always good for a spectacle," said the former VfB Stuttgart youth coach. "They are very strong up front, they're able to turn defence into attack very quickly and they don't allow you too much room."
The returning Artjoms Rudnevs, who missed Hannover’s 3-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund with a foot injury, will be looking to take advantage of their hosts' defensive frailties. Korkut was forced to play Leonardo Bittencourt and Szabolcs Huszti in attack against BVB, but the coach is confident the Latvian striker will be fit. "Rudi managed to train and I expect him to travel to Hoffenheim with us."