Munich - Sixth-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach face a potentially tricky trip to SC Freiburg on Matchday 31, with both sides in need of victory for very different reasons.
SC Freiburg - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Elsewhere, SV Werder Bremen host 1899 Hoffenheim, while Hertha Berlin travel to FC Augsburg without one of their key players. bundesliga.com looks ahead to Saturday’s action…
Freiburg may have a five-point cushion over the relegation places, but Breisgauer star Admir Mehmedi has warned his colleagues not to rest on their laurels when they welcome Borussia Mönchengladbach to the MAGE Solar Stadion this weekend. Matchday 30’s win over basement-dwellers Eintracht Braunschweig gave Freiburg breathing space at the foot of the table and the 23-year-old now wants to take another step towards survival by beating the Foals.
“Of course we can look at the league table with a little less tension after our last victory,” Mehmedi told his club’s official website. “But it’s important we focus on ourselves and don’t worry about what the teams around us are doing.” Coach Christian Streich shared his player’s views: “We’re going to have to play really well to take points off Gladbach,” said the 48-year-old, who will be without the injured Pavel Krmas, Mensur Mujdza, Vaclav Pilar and Mike Hanke for the match in Baden-Württemberg. “They’re strong, but we’ll do our best to match them.”
‘Stranzl could return’
Gladbach coach Lucien Favre, meanwhile, could welcome back veteran defender Martin Stranzl. The 33-year-old Austrian returned to training this week following an ankle injury and could figure against the Black Forest club. Left-back Oscar Wendt has also resumed light training following a knee ligament injury, but the Sweden international is still lacking match fitness.
Favre’s side edged a little closer to securing their place in Europe next season courtesy of FC Bayern München’s victory over 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the DFB Cup semi-final on Wednesday. The team who finish seventh will now be given Germany’s third UEFA Europa League spot, and with Gladbach seven points clear of eighth-placed FC Augsburg with four games remaining, European football is set to return to Borussia Park next season. Favre isn’t taking Freiburg lightly, however. “It’ll be very difficult,” said the Swiss coach. “But we’re determined to get a good result.”
SV Werder Bremen - 1899 Hoffenheim
If Werder Bremen’s clash with 1899 Hoffenheim is half as entertaining as the last meeting between the two teams, we could have another cracker on our hands at the Weser Stadion on Saturday. Matchday 14’s 4-4 draw in Sinsheim was every bit as pulsating as the scoreline suggests, and Bremen coach Robin Dutt knows his players face a tough task to keep the Kraichgauer’s potent forward line at bay this time around.
“They're tremendously strong in attack and have some truly unbelievable talent in their ranks,” said the Grün-Weißen coach. “They’re very dangerous with Roberto Firmino, Kevin Volland and Anthony Modeste, and they also score a lot of goals from set-pieces. Sejad Salihovic is one of the best free-kick takers in the business.” Czech international Theodor Gebre Selassie could replace the suspended Zlatko Junuzovic in the Werder line-up after the Austrian picked up his fifth booking of the season at 1. FSV Mainz 05 last weekend.
Hoffenheim have yet to win at Bremen in the Bundesliga, losing three and drawing two of their five league matches at the Weser Stadion to date. Nonetheless, coach Markus Gisdol is confident his charges can remain unbeaten for a sixth consecutive league outing. “We want to finish the season strongly and try to climb another place in the table,” said the 44-year-old.
Left-back Andreas Beck is serving a one-match suspension after receiving his fifth yellow card of the campaign against Augsburg last Sunday. Salihovic, who opened the scoring against the Fuggerstädter on with a sublime free-kick, could take Beck’s place in defence, with youngster Kai Herdling coming into the side.
FC Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
Hertha Berlin will be without Borussia Dortmund-bound striker Adrian Ramos for their trip to FC Augsburg. The Colombian suffered a thigh muscle injury against Hoffenheim a fortnight ago and, despite returning to training this week, the 28-year-old will miss the Matchday 31 encounter at the SGL Arena.
Defender Lewan Kobiaschwili has also been ruled out with a foot injury, but Fabian Lustenberger is set to return to the squad after two months out with a thigh muscle tear. “I will speak to him before the game,” said Hertha coach Jos Luhukay. “Both parties will then decide whether it makes sense to include him in the starting line-up.”
FCA not thinking of Europe
Augsburg, who inflicted Pep Guardiola’s first league defeat as Bayern coach two weeks ago, still have an outside chance of qualifying for next year’s Europa League. Markus Weinzierl’s side are five points off seventh-placed Mainz, but midfielder Andre Hahn insists the Fuggerstädter are refusing to dream about hosting some of Europe’s biggest sides next season.
“We managed to secure our place in next season’s top flight earlier than anyone would have imagined at the start of the campaign,” said the midfielder, who will join Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer. “Now we just want to get as many points as possible between now and the end of the season and see where it gets us. If we finish in the top ten, it’ll be a fantastic achievement.”