Coming up this week on GOAL!...
Top Game I
It's the quintessential clash of North and South but never in the long rivalry of Hamburger SV and FC Bayern München has there been a game quite like this one. The hosts, the only club with an uninterrupted presence in the Bundesliga since day one, still just about have their fate in their own hands as far as the maintenance of that record goes. Two wins in their last two games could yet squeeze them above Stuttgart and out of the bottom three, but would at any rate guarantee them a home-and-away play-off against the third-placed side in Bundesliga 2, with a top-flight berth next season reserved for the winners. To be sure of not finding themselves in the bottom two going into the final matchday, Hamburg need to take three points off the record-smashing record champs, who steered out of an unexpected late-season mini-slump with a 5-2 win against Bremen at the weekend. The atmosphere will be boiling over at the Imtech Arena for this one – but will it be enough to help HSV to their desired end?
One man hoping to be in the thick of the action at Hamburg is . The Bundesliga's record signing when he swapped Athletic Bilbao for FC Bayern in the summer of 2012, Martinez swiftly formed a ruthlessly effective defensive midfield partnership with which would become an integral part of the Munich club's triumphant march on an unprecedented Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League treble. After an injury-hampered to start to the current campaign under new head coach Pep Guardiola, the 25-year-old Spain international has been getting back to his quietly influential best, either in that holding role alongside Schweinsteiger – among others – or further back in the centre of the defence, as required. And with another tremendous club campaign fast drawing to a close, Martinez will soon be turning his full attention towards trying to help Spain retain their own world crown in Brazil.
Staying on the subject of 2013 Matchday 34 drama, the events at the Signal Iduna Park were hard to top. Having staged a remarkable recovery from a fairly hopeless-looking position in the handful of games since Markus Gisdol was appointed head coach, 1899 Hoffenheim still faced the daunting prospect of needing to beat Borussia Dortmund in their own back yard to earn themselves a ticket to the last-chance Bundesliga saloon of the play-offs. They did it as well, in an encounter remembered above all for its amazing finale which saw two penalties turn defeat into delirious victory for the visitors, a Dortmund goal chalked off and hometown hero take his renowned onfield adaptability to new heights. Ahead of the sides' Ruhr district reunion a year on, Gisdol reflects on an unforgettable afternoon in his fledgling Bundesliga coaching career
For 1. FSV Mainz 05, a shot at the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League is now tantalisingly close with FC Augsburg, four points adrift, the only remaining threat to a minimum seventh-place finish. Victory at Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend would have the added bonus of lifting Thomas Tuchel's side above the hosts and into the top six with one game to go. For their part meanwhile, Sunday's single-goal win at Schalke leaves the Foals still right in the mix for fourth place and a Champions League qualifying berth – albeit at the lower end of a spectrum encompassing, in ascending order, Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and even Schalke themselves now. Bayer Leverkusen, revitalised under interim coach Sascha Lewandowski, may have failed to earn the home victory over Dortmund that would have thus seen them move to within a point of the Royal Blues but they will be out to ensure the race for third place goes right down to the wire by taking a maximum haul from their upcoming trip to Eintracht Frankfurt. The Werkself turned in an impressive counter-attacking display in their 2-2 draw with on-form BVB but they will be rightly wary of a Frankfurt side looking to give Armin Veh a fitting send-off in the final home game of his successful tenure as head coach.