Munich - The race for Europe, the battle to beat the drop and a hearty scoop of derby fervour all make for one heady Bundesliga brew on Matchday 29.
1. FC Nürnberg - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Allow bundesliga.com to guide you through the rest of the Saturday afternoon action...
1. FC Nürnberg have spent the entire season not knowing whether they're coming or going, but it's a pattern that looks set to continue for a good few weeks yet. Der Club are hovering precariously on the edge ahead of Saturday's tussle with UEFA Champions League-chasing Borussia Mönchengladbach, just two points clear of relegation play-off place incumbents VfB Stuttgart and with a further three to make up on 14th-placed SC Freiburg.
"We're focused on the Gladbach game," Nürnberg head coach Gertjan Verbeek told the club's website. "We were unlucky [last week against Freiburg]. We want to get something more out of this one. If we're still where we are now at the end of the season, we'll have done it." The Dutchman will be without suspended defenders Niklas Stark und Emanuel Pogatetz, while loanee midfielder Jose Campana is a major doubt. "I don't think it's going to happen for him," admitted Verbeek.
'A tough match'
Gladbach head honcho Lucien Favre will also have to adapt and overcome, with defensive duo Martin Stranzl and Oscar Wendt definitely ruled out through injury. The Foals could also be shorn of another defensive stalwart in the form of Belgian veteran Filip Daems, who only returned to training on Thursday. "We'll wait until after [Friday's training] to see if he's 100 per cent fit," Favre explained.
Sixth-placed Borussia could have a huge say in who stays and who goes, with their next three fixtures all coming against sides stuck at the wrong end of the table. Despite the glaring points chasm between them and their more immediate combatants, however, Favre is refusing to take anything for granted: "Nürnberg are fighting against relegation, that tells you everything. It's going to be a tough match".
Eintracht Frankfurt - 1. FSV Mainz 05
Much like Nürnberg, Eintracht Frankfurt had, until very recently, endured a frustrating campaign that for a good while smacked of second-season syndrome. Since being dispatched in the UEFA Europa League, however, the Eagles have begun to show the kind of form that took them into Europe in the first place, winning two of their last three to move eight points clear of the bottom three.
"Frankurt have a lot of quality in midfield, good full backs and dangerous strikers," warned visiting head coach Thomas Tuchel. "They play good football, they'll be pumped for the game and will give it their all. There's going to be quite the atmosphere in Frankfurt [...] but we know how much this game means to our fans. We want to do all we can to make sure we pick up a win for them because it will taste twice as sweet in Frankfurt."
As German football derbies go, they don't come much bigger than the Rhine-Main variant. The 05ers took the spoils earlier in the campaign, thanks to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's 88th-minute winner on Matchday 12, and fully intend to make it a double with victory in the Eagles' own back yard on Saturday afternoon.
"The best thing we can do is focus on how to beat them," Tuchel added when quizzed on his side's chances of sneaking a place in Europe next season. "We shouldn't waste time thinking about the what might happen if we win [...] We want to build on our victory over Augsburg and show that we're capable of holding onto seventh place."
VfB Stuttgart - SC Freiburg
Further south, meanwhile, there's that little matter of the Baden-Württemberg derby between Freiburg and Stuttgart. A fiery occasion at the best of times, the two sides' shared predicament at the tail-end of the table only adds to the must-see sense of occasion set to engulf the MAGE-Solar Arena come kick-off.
"Any game against Freiburg is always exciting and full of emotion," said Stuttgart sporting director Fredi Bobic. "It's something really special." Saturday's match-up, incidentally, is the third meeting between the two sides already this season, with Freiburg victorious in the second round of the DFB Cup, but losers on home soil in the league.
'The finer details'
Freiburg have recorded three wins and a draw since losing to Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 24, but as Christian Streich alluded to at Friday's pre-match press conference, third-from-bottom Stuttgart are treading altogether more dangerous waters.
"Their position is clear," Freiburg's head coach explained. "For them, it's not so much about whether or not it's a derby. In their situation, they'll simply be doing everything they can to win [...] Their transition play is good and they've only suffered narrow defeats of late [...] Hopefully we'll be play to the best of our ability."
All is not yet lost for the teams at the bottom, as history has shown over the years...