Bundesliga Matchday 34: Hertha bid for survival at Dortmund
The end of another Bundesliga season is upon us — and the battle for top-flight survival hangs in the balance.
Borussia Dortmund host a Hertha Berlin team still trying to secure safety, while fellow strugglers Stuttgart take on Cologne.
Elsewhere on the final day, the last Champions League place remains up for grabs as Freiburg travel to Bayer Leverkusen, with RB Leipzig making the trip to lowly Arminia Bielefeld.
And champions Bayern Munich conclude their campaign at Wolfsburg after storming to a remarkable 10th straight title last month.
Game of the week: Borussia Dortmund vs Hertha Berlin (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Hertha Berlin head to Signal Iduna Park knowing a point will ensure their top-flight survival — though they have lost on the final day five years running.
Only rock-bottom Greuther Furth (80) have conceded more goals than Hertha (69), who have only ever let in more once (84 in 1990-91).
After winning 3-2 in December, Felix Magath's side could do the double over Dortmund for just the second time in their history.
In what will be Erling Haaland's last appearance for the club before joining Manchester City, the hosts will aim to end the season by making it 13 home wins out of 17.
Marco Rose's outfit have already registered 83 goals this term and two more will see them set a new club record for the most in a single Bundesliga campaign.
Here are the other big games to keep an eye on this weekend…
Stuttgart vs Cologne (Saturday, 2.30pm)
While a draw guarantees Stuttgart at least the chance to play off for survival, their superior goal difference means a victory keeps them up if Hertha lose.
That would be quite an achievement, however, considering the Swabians enter this encounter winless in six.
Cologne could still qualify for the Europa League — but they must win and need Union Berlin to drop points if they are to leapfrog them into sixth. The Billy Goats have won three of their last four on the road, so will be optimistic of securing a result.
Evidently, Stuttgart have struggled this season but they do have the second-most productive pair of players in the league.
Borna Sosa has assisted Sasa Kalajdzic nine times, with only Bayern’s Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski combining for more goals (14) since the start of last term.
But Cologne have the Bundesliga’s fifth-highest scorer in Anthony Modeste (19 goals) at their disposal. He has scored all three of his side’s goals against Stuttgart in all competitions this term.
One of those three was an 88th-minute header to clinch a 1-0 win, in their previous league encounter.
Arminia Bielefeld vs RB Leipzig (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Barring an unfathomable goal swing, RB Leipzig only need a point to secure fourth spot and Champions League qualification.
But they will be looking for a return to winning ways on the road after recent away defeats to Borussia Monchengladbach and Rangers.
As for second-bottom Arminia Bielefeld, they require three points and an eight-goal swing just to climb into the relegation play-off place. That would represent quite a feat, considering they have taken just two points from the last 30 available.
Statistically, Leipzig go into the final day as the strongest team during the second half of the campaign, having picked up 35 points since the halfway mark.
The hosts’ likely relegation would be their eighth in Bundesliga history. Only Nurnberg have gone down from the top flight more times (nine).
Arminia did actually win the reverse meeting between these teams 2-0, doubling their lead after having substitute Fabian Klos sent off.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Freiburg (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Freiburg must win and hope for a favour from Arminia if they are to pip Leipzig to fourth spot — though the Breisgau Brazilians have lost all seven of their final-day encounters away from home this century.
That said, the visitors are unbeaten in seven on their travels. If the DFB-Pokal finalists take all three points at the BayArena then they will equal their previous best away tally for a top-flight campaign (29).
They will have to contend with a Leverkusen side in scintillating scoring form. Die Werkself have struck 10 times in their last three outings, taking their Bundesliga total this term to a club-record 78.
Assured of a third-placed finish, the hosts will aim to win on the final day of the season for a fifth campaign in a row.
Kevin Schade popped up with an 84th-minute winner as Freiburg edged their previous encounter with Leverkusen 2-1.
Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Bayern Munich have lost one and drawn one since sealing the title, so will look to round off the season with a 15th final-day victory in 16 years.
That record does not bode well for Wolfsburg, who have only ever beaten the Bavarian giants four times in 49 previous Bundesliga meetings — and not since a 4-1 triumph in January 2015.
The visitors could make a bit of history at the Volkswagen Arena too. Score and they will have found the net in 28 consecutive encounters with the Wolves, which is more than they have ever managed against any other Bundesliga team.
Wolfsburg go into this match having lost on the final day in each of the last two seasons, including a 4-0 defeat at home to Bayern in 2020.
The league champions won this term’s reverse fixture by the same scoreline, with Muller, Dayot Upamecano, Leroy Sane and Lewandowski all finding the net.
The weekend’s other games
Augsburg vs Greuther Furth (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Hoffenheim (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Union Berlin vs Bochum (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Mainz vs Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 2.30pm)