Bundesliga livelihoods are at stake on Saturday as bottom club Hannover 96 look to take the first step towards avoiding a seemingly impending relegation at home to northern rivals and fellow strugglers Hamburger SV (kick-off 15:30CEST/13:30GMT).
Hannover's hopes of steering clear of the drop were dealt a crushing blow on Matchday 27 with a 1-0 defeat away to Eintracht Frankfurt, a result which left them ten points adrift at the foot of the standings. Having occupied 18th place since the turn of the year, time is running out for Thomas Schaaf's men to pull off what would be one of the most dramatic escape acts in Bundesliga history.
Hamburg's status as the league's only ever-present club has appeared to be in little danger this season, but poor recent results have left them perched nervously just four points above 17th place. Top scorer Nicolai Müller is available once more, providing a timely boost to a side desperate to avoid a third straight relegation battle.
Hannover produced an impressive second-half comeback to beat Hamburg at the Volksparkstadion.
Matchday 28 - match stats
- Hannover are only the fourth team in Bundesliga history to have 20 (or more) defeats on the board after 27 rounds of matches. The previous three sides were all relegated.
- The hosts have lost their last six Bundesliga home games and have failed to score in their last four at the HDI Arena. Both of those are unwanted club records.
- HSV have only picked up one point from their four away matches in the second half of the season.
- These two teams have fielded more foreign players this term than any other side: Hannover's quota stands at 66 per cent, HSV's at 65 per cent.
Hannover: Zieler - Sakai, Milosevic, Schulz, Sorg - Sane, Hoffmann - Karaman, Kiyotake, Prib - Hugo Almeida
Absentees: Andreasen (ankle)
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Cleber, Spahic, Sakai - Ekdal, Holtby - Müller, Hunt, Ilicevic - Rudnevs
Absentees: Ostrzolek (suspended), Drmic (knee), Altintas (broken cheekbone)