As the closest relegation battle in Bundesliga history reaches its climax, we take a look at what could happen on Matchday 33…
They were seven points clear of the bottom three a fortnight ago, but Hertha’s downturn in form could hardly have come at a worse time. Die Alte Dame have failed to win any of their last five games - only fellow strugglers Hannover 96 are currently on a worse run - and could end Matchday 33 in the relegation play-off spot if results go against them. However, victory over Frankfurt would secure their top-flight status for another season if either SC Paderborn or Hamburger SV fail to win.
Having propped up the table on Matchday 29, the Bundesliga’s only ever present side have given themselves a realistic chance of survival with . The Red Shorts will be safe if they beat VfB Stuttgart and two of the three sides directly below them lose on Matchday 33. Bruno Labbadia’s chargest cannot afford to breathe easy just yet, though: lose in Stuttgart and they could slip to the foot of the standings once again.
Denied a valuable three points by Gojko Kacar's last-gasp equaliser at the Imtech Arena last Friday, Freiburg have arguably the toughest task on Matchday 33, with champions FC Bayern München visiting the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Saturday afternoon. Christian Streich’s side boast a far better goal difference than any of the teams around them, but a draw or defeat against Bayern would leave them needing to beat Hannover on the final day to seal their place at Germany’s top table next term.
No Bundesliga side has ever stayed up after failing to win any of their first 15 Rückrunde games. The Reds could equal an unwanted club record at Augsburg on Saturday: the last time they went 17 league games without victory was back in 1985/86 - a campaign that ended in relegation for the Lower Saxons. Their superior goal difference over Hamburg and Paderborn gives them a slight advantage, but failure to win in Augsburg would leave them having to beat Freiburg on Matchday 34 to guarantee survival.
Only Hannover have collected fewer points than Paderborn in 2015, which doesn’t bode well for Andre Breitenreiter’s side going into the final two games of the East Westphalians’ maiden Bundesliga campaign. Defeat at FC Schalke 04 would not seal an immediate return to Bundesliga 2, with rock-bottom Stuttgart still to visit the Benteler Arena for a potentially pivotal final-day encounter, but three points from the next six on offer might not be enough to save Breitenreiter’s charges from relegation.
The only side that could be relegated on Matchday 33, Stuttgart earned themselves a lifeline with victory over 1. FSV Mainz 05 last time out. Another win on Matchday 33 - against Hamburg - could even lift the Swabians out of the bottom three. Despite their unenviable league position, Stevens’ side have cause for optimism: no other Bundesliga side has scored more goals (ten) in the last five games and with matches against HSV and Paderborn to come, Stuttgart’s fate remains in their hands.