Nürnberg, Stuttgart and Hamburg are the three top-flight clubs most likely to need a play-off to save their Bundesliga hides
Nürnberg, Stuttgart and Hamburg are the three top-flight clubs most likely to need a play-off to save their Bundesliga hides
Bundesliga

Play-off perils facing Bundesliga trio

Munich - Surviving in the Bundesliga is a marathon at the best of times, but what is already a long, hard slog is set to become even more exhausting for the endangered top-flight clubs looking to prolong their stay in the big-time.

Tight at the bottom

The bottom two clubs will be relegated automatically, with the 16th-placed team set to face the third-placed side in Bundesliga 2 in an all-or-nothing two-legged play-off to be played on 15 and 18 May.

Since the reintroduction of the promotion/relegation play-offs in 2009, top-flight teams have got the better of their lower-league rivals three times, and only 1. FC Nürnberg in the inaugural competition and Fortuna Düsseldorf in 2012 have succeeded in ousting a top-flight opponent over two legs.

Heading into the final four games of the season, VfB Stuttgart, Hamburger SV and Nürnberg seem the likeliest candidates to finish the season in 16th place, although bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig could clamber into the play-off place still, while SC Freiburg, Hannover 96 and SV Werder Bremen could also yet be sucked in.

All seven clubs will have fought a gruelling campaign when the 34th round of matches comes to an end on 10 May, but for one of them, a final hurdle will need to be negotiated against one of the second tier's posse of proud, aspiring clubs battling for the right to face FC Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund and Co. next season.

bundesliga.com takes a look at who they might face…

Greuther Fürth


Current position: 2nd
Current points: 53
Remaining fixtures: SC Paderborn (A), TSV 1860 Munich (H), FC Energie Cottbus (A), SV Sandhausen (H)

SC Paderborn 07


Current position: 3rd
Current points: 52
Remaining fixtures: Greuther Fürth (H), SV Sandhausen (H), FC Erzgebirge Aue (A), VfR Aalen (H)

1. FC Kaiserslautern


Current position: 4th
Current points: 47
Remaining fixtures: FSV Frankfurt (H), FC Union Berlin (A), Dynamo Dresden (H), Fortuna Düsseldorf (A)

See all the drama of a relegation battle with this compilation of highlights from Matchday 30 in the Bundesliga, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel.