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Sports

Bundesliga Preview: Battle of Borussias tops Matchday 28

The most intriguing clash of Matchday 28 is the battle of the Borussias: Mönchengladbach vs. Dortmund. Dortmund's problems this season are well-known while Gladbach has hit a bump in an otherwise fine campaign.

Borussia Mönchengladbach hosts Borussia Dortmund on Saturday with the Foals looking to bounce back from their mid-week Cup exit at the hands of third division side Arminia Bielefeld.

Gladbach missed out on the chance to win their fourth German Cup and end a 20-year silverware drought on Wednesday as the Foals lost 5-4 on penalties. Third in the Bundesliga and on course to qualify for the Champions League, Gladbach hadn't lost in its last seven league matches.

"Obviously I am disappointed because we wanted to reach the semi-finals, we wanted desperately to advance," said head coach Lucien Favre. "Being eliminated on penalties is obviously difficult to accept but we have to put it behind us very quickly."

Standing in Gladbach's way is Borussia Dortmund. They were the equals of Bayern Munich in their last league match, but their on-again off-again attack let them down. Jürgen Klopp's troops had been in the midst of resurgence with Marco Reus scoring seven league goals this campaign.

Dortmund lies in 10th on 33 points, eight above the drop zone and four behind a potential spot in the UEFA Europa League. Klopp should be able to call upon the services of Mats Hummels and Reus - both starters missed the Dortmund's mid-week Cup win over Hoffenheim. But Sven Bender could miss out with injury.

Dortmund's record against the top-four sides has been poor this season: just one win over Gladbach is as good as it gets for the yellow-and-blacks.

"The corresponding fixture against Gladbach earlier in the season was our best game of the campaign so far - even though we didn't actually score ourselves!" Klopp joked. Dortmund beat the Foals 1-0 thanks to a slapstick Christoph Kramer own goal from the halfway line.

Fußball Bundesliga 11. Spieltag: VfL Wolfsburg - Hamburger SV

Striker Ivica Olic began the season for Wolfsburg but now plays for Hamburg

Home opportunities for bottom-four

The league's bottom-four teams - Hamburg, Stuttgart, Paderborn and Hannover - will play on home soil this weekend with every point crucial.

Hamburg, under interim coach and sporting director Peter Knäbel, is increasingly under pressure to protect its record of having never been relegated from the Bundesliga. Knäbel's side went down in flames 4-0 at Bayer Leverkusen.

"It's a mental block," admitted Ivica Olic in the football magazine Kicker. "I don't want to make excuses but the situation makes you freeze up. Since I have been back here I have seen very little fun on the pitch. No one tries to dribble or to attempt a back-heel."

Without a win in seven league outings, Hamburg has the league's worst offense, but could welcome back Pierre-Michel Lasogga to the starting eleven after he impressed in training in midweek. Still, it will a tall order to get anything off opponents Wolfsburg, who are second in the table.

Paderborn seems resigned to the drop after coach Andre Breitenreiter got the minnows off a positive start to the season. But Paderborn hasn't found the net in 551 minutes since it beat Hannover 2-1 away from home - its last win in the league.

On Sunday, last-placed Stuttgart, who has shown promise of late, welcomes Werder Bremen, winless in three matches. But Stuttgart hasn't only won one of their previous eleven home matches.

On Friday, Hannover's embattled coach Tayfun Korkut need a win against a buoyant Hertha Berlin, who has all but secured first-division status for next season. Hannover clawed back a two-goal deficit to draw at Frankfurt last week and has been solid at home this season, scoring in all but one of their 13 outings.

Saturday also sees Bayern Munich, with a 10-point lead at the top, hosting Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz facing Leverkusen and Schalke taking on Freiburg.

Bundesliga Matchday 28 fixtures:

Hannover v Hertha (Friday), Borussia Mönchengladbach v Borussia Dortmund (Saturday), Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday), Schalke v Freiburg (Saturday), Mainz v Leverkusen (Saturday), Paderborn v Augsburg (Saturday), Hamburg v Wolfsburg (Saturday evening), Cologne v Hoffenheim (Sunday), Stuttgart v Werder Bremen (Sunday)