After impressing only in fits and starts for much of the campaign, both Bayer 04 Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg find themselves in the thick of the race to qualify for the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League.

The two sides meet at the BayArena on Friday, separated by just four points, in a game that could ultimately define their seasons.

Read: Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg match preview

Leverkusen focused on run-in

Only two points outside the coveted top four, sixth-placed Leverkusen are in the more favourable position. Die Werkself have won their last two and no longer have to contend with the added distraction of UEFA Europa League football following their narrow 2-0 aggregate defeat to Villarreal CF in the Round of 16.

However, having amassed as many points in front of their own fans as they have on their travels (21), Leverkusen's home form remains the worst of the Bundesliga's eight European candidates. With three of their remaining seven matches coming against top-five members FC Schalke 04, Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach, redressing that particular balance has to be a priority.

Infographic: The European contenders' run-ins

Wolves still to bare teeth

Similarly, it is eighth-in-the-table Wolfsburg's season-long inconsistencies that continue to put their continental ambitions at risk. Perhaps it is down to the physical burden of reaching the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time ever, but the Wolves have scarcely played with the bite that typified last term's second-placed finish, scoring significantly fewer goals after 27 games (39) compared to at the same juncture in 2014/15 (60).

The pressure-cooker fixture list will do little to ease Wolfsburg fans' concerns. Matches against 1. FSV Mainz 05 and SV Werder Bremen follow Friday's trip to Leverkusen, sandwiching VfL's historic UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash against Real Madrid CF. In the worst case scenario, Wolfsburg could be out of Europe as well as the top-four running by the time they host FC Augsburg on Matchday 31.

Read: UCL quarter-final draw as it happened

Schürrle vs Hernandez

If Wolfsburg are to turn their season around in the final straight, the performances of Andre Schürrle will be key. The Bundesliga's March Player of the Month has found top form in recent weeks, scoring a hat-trick against Hannover 96, registering an assist in the 2-1 victory over Gladbach and netting a last-gasp equaliser at home to SV Darmstadt 98. Suffice to say another man-of-the-match display on his former BayArena stomping ground would go down very well indeed.

Watch: Schürrle scoops Player of the Month award

Leverkusen's very own great white hope, meanwhile, needs no introduction. Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez has scored 14 times in his debut Bundesliga campaign, and although Bayer have managed to win their last two without the Mexican finding the net, their hopes of breaking back into the top four and staying there may well hinge on the diminutive striker rediscovering his groove in front of goal. Snaring the Wolves would be a great place to start.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge