Coming up this week on GOAL!...
Even in the ultra-competitive lower reaches of the Bundesliga, the team seventh from bottom of the table can usually breathe comparatively easy by the time Matchday 31 comes around. Not this year however, with all of eight points separating 12th-placed Werder Bremen from cellar dwellers Eintracht Braunschweig. The latter are still just a win away from the first non-relegation berth, currently occupied by VfB Stuttgart, with Hamburger SV and 1. FC Nürnberg sandwiched in between. The two sides directly below Bremen – Hannover 96 and SC Freiburg – meanwhile have a small and certainly far from decisive cushion on the four-way scrap at the very bottom. In short, with only four games left to go nobody is doomed to the drop yet – and over a third of the teams in the top flight are still battling tooth and nail to stay there.
Top Game I
Having bounced back from the disappointment of their UEFA Champions League exit in the best possible manner, romping to a 3-0 win at FC Bayern, Borussia Dortmund press on with their bid to secure second place by taking another three points off of 1. FSV Mainz 05. The visitors have had an up-and-down few weeks but last Saturday was definitely in the 'up' category as they pummelled Bremen into submission with an exhilarating performance above all in the first half, scoring three goals without reply. That result was enough to keep Thomas Tuchel's men in the hunt for a Europa League place and conceivably even a Champions League qualifying shot. The other dimension invariably attached to this game is that it pits Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp against the club where he spent his entire playing career as a full-time professional – and where he subsequently first earned his spurs as a coach.
World Cup Special
Born and raised in Hamburg, where he was on FC St. Pauli's books at youth level before going on to play for Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga, represented Germany up to U-21 level before being given the all-clear from Fifa to turn out for Cameroon. Now, the 1. FSV Mainz 05 all-round attacking talent is heading for his second World Cup finals tournament with the Indomitable Lions, this time around under the steady hand of SC Freiburg club legend Volker Finke. Choupo-Moting's proven eye for goal in the international sphere could make him indispensable to Cameroon's bid to qualify from one of the toughest groups of the lot, with Mexico and Croatia to be tackled before the small matter of a potentially defining head-to-head with hosts Brazil.
Team of the Season Vote
This week, it's the midfielders to the fore in our vote for the top Bundesliga XI of 2013/14. Up for grabs are two holding slots and three further up the pitch, with a trio of candidates in contention for each. And while it will come as no great surprise to see a liberal peppering of FC Bayern faces in the mix, the likes of , , , and offer plenty of valid alternatives to a Munich monopoly. GOAL! has the overview on how each nominee has earned his place on the shortlist.