In light of Bayern and Borussia Dortmund - both of whom have already booked their place in the UEFA Champions League next season - facing off in the DFB Cup final on 17 May, six teams remain in the battle for a and with it an appearance in either the Champions League or the UEFA Europa League.
Heading down the final stretch, bundesliga.com takes a look at how the 2013/14 campaign’s penultimate weekend could affect the race for Europe…
Despite losing for only the second time in the current campaign, third-placed FC Schalke 04’s three-point cushion means they still hold all the cards as they look to book their place in the UEFA Champions League group stages for a third straight season. In SC Freiburg and 1. FC Nürnberg, the Royal Blues are set to face two teams in the bottom half of the table before the season’s conclusion, but a return to winning ways this weekend could seal the deal should Leverkusen drop points in Frankfurt.
The Werkself would have to beat both Frankfurt and Bremen to stand a chance of finishing in third, but will be disappointed to find themselves in their current predicament. Having sat in second during the winter break, Bayer 04 have picked up post-Christmas and, though an upswing in form under Sascha Lewandowski has seen Leverkusen narrow the gap on Schalke, with one point separating themselves and Wolfsburg, their work is far from over.
Dieter Hecking’s men failed to capitalise on Leverkusen dropping points in their 2-2 draw with Dortmund last weekend as they were held at home to Freiburg by the same scoreline. The Wolves have flirted with the prospect of sitting at Europe’s top table, but their inexperience has proven costly. Guaranteed a place in Europe for the first time since the 2009/10 campaign, Wolfsburg cannot afford to leave Stuttgart with anything less than three points this weekend to retain any hope of snatching fourth place.
Borussia Mönchengladbach seem intent on letting the opportunity to finish in top four slip through their fingers, but still have an outside chance after beating Schalke. Should the Royal Blues lose to in-form Freiburg this weekend, Lucien Favre’s charges, who have the hardest run-in of any top-seven side, would still be in with a chance of a finishing in third providing, of course, that they take all three points at home to Mainz ahead of their head-to-head battle with Wolfsburg on the final day of the season.
Thomas Tuchel’s men are on course to book their place on the international circuit for only the second time in the club’s history. Having flown under the radar, Mainz, four points clear in seventh, have succeed where they've failed in recent season by maintaining their form in the Rückrunde. Only Bayern (37), BVB (33) and Schalke (30) have picked up more points in 2014 than the 05ers (26) and a ninth win of year on Saturday would be the perfect prelude to frenzied celebrations on the final day at home to Hamburg.
Augsburg have a revelation in the current campaign and, while European qualification may be unlikely, it is a testament to the work done by head coach Markus Weinzierl that his side are even in with a chance. Andre Hahn and Co. would have to win both of their remaining fixtures - Braunschweig (A) and Frankfurt (H) - and hope Mainz fail to pick up three points before the end of the season to pull the rabbit out of the hat. However, they are no strangers to Rückrunde miracles after surviving the drop last season.