With just four games to go, The Bundesliga season is reaching its climax. DW's soccer pundits already have one eye on a deserted beach and the other on a large cocktail filled with fruit and unnecessary decoration.
DW pundits empathise with Tasmania, beaten here 9-0
Oh dear. If DW's pundits were a Bundesliga team last week, we would have been SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin - the long since dissolved, officially worst team in Bundesliga history.
Old Tasmania holds a number of dubious records including the lowest number of points in a Bundesliga season - a paltry eight - and the only Bundesliga team never…let us repeat that again in capitals NEVER…to win a game away from home. That's a perfect 0-for-17 on the season in the club’s brief stint in the top flight.
Anyway, just as Tasmania 1900 rose from the ashes to become SV Tasmania-Gropiusstadt 1973 (who are in a stable mid-table position in the 2. Berliner Landesliga, in case you were wondering), so we will pick ourselves up once more and soldier on with the weight of history on our backs...so as to spend our golden years on a shabby patch of grass next to the train tracks in Neukölln.
Thursday, April 21
Freiburg - Hannover
Hannover's challenge for the Champions League can get back on track if they get a win against Freiburg and provisionally move back into third above Bayern Munich, who play on Saturday. After spluttering to a goalless draw last week, Mirko Slomka's dark horses will be hoping it was a hiccup rather than a choke with just three games to go after this one. With Bayern looking competitive again, Hannover will have to keep winning to keep their hopes alive. Freiburg rolled over away at Dortmund last week - at home, however, they're much more stubborn.
Saturday, April 23
Schalke - Kaiserslautern
What will it be this week, Raul? Celebration or depression
Schalke continue to lurch from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again, even under the more measured guidance of Ralf Rangnick. The inconsistency that marred the Magath regime continues as the same team that soundly beat Inter Milan labored away to Werder Bremen at the weekend. Kaiserslautern are still not safe and look to be in even more trouble after losing to Nuremberg. We think Schalke at home may be a game too far for the strugglers, despite the Royal Blues' schizophrenic form.
Prediction: Schalke 2-0
Leverkusen - Hoffenheim
Jupp Heynckes got a close look at some of the players he will be inheriting in the summer when Bayern chopped his Leverkusen side into little pieces last week. It's unlikely there was much room for admiration as his new team effectively ended any hope of his current one winning the league. There's still pride and an automatic Champions League qualification place up for grabs so, unless there is a major hangover from last week's 5-1 drubbing, we see Leverkusen recovering - and proving too much for a Hoffenheim side huffing and puffing towards the summer break.
Prediction: Leverkusen 3-1
Stuttgart - Hamburg
We've been here before but can Stuttgart keep winning?
Stuttgart need to maintain their current form to climb out of the danger zone after just one defeat in the last seven games saw them haul themselves out of the bottom three. They would be further up the table if results elsewhere had gone their way but this is no time for Stuttgart to rely on their peers. They've been here before and have slipped back into trouble. Hamburg are comfortably mid-table but have been unable to finish teams off in the past few weeks since hitting six past Cologne. Stuttgart will need to be on top of their game; Hamburg could muddle through and still get a draw.
Frankfurt - Bayern
Bayern are a team revived after Louis van Gaal was given the boot, and the freedom they showed when putting Leverkusen into the blender at a high setting last week will have Christoph Daum's Frankfurt feeling a bit shaky. Last week's defeat to Hoffenheim put an end to an encouraging unbeaten run but such is Frankfurt's predicament that even a single loss can undo all that good work. They're still relegation-threatened and we reckon they’ll be deeper in the mire after this game.
Prediction: Bayern 4-0
St. Pauli - Bremen
Bremen can't safely take their foot off the gas just yet
Bremen have put enough daylight between them and the relegation zone to let their fans sigh with relief but they will have to remain vigilant in the last few games if they want to avoid a sticky finish. Werder can just as easily end up hovering just above the drop zone - or mathematically in it - as they can finish mid-table. St. Pauli's woeful descent through the league suggests that Bremen have a good chance of enjoying the warm glow of victory on the short journey home this weekend.
Prediction: Bremen 1-3
Gladbach - Dortmund
If you heard you could be crowned Bundesliga champions if you won your next game, who would you pick to play? We’d bet you’d take a club which is bottom of the league and only theoretically able to escape relegation. Dortmund’s wish was granted, and the the black and yellow side of the Ruhr valley could be a party zone on Saturday night if BVB beat Gladbach and Leverkusen stumble at home to Hoffenheim. Even if the inevitable is put off for another week, it's hard to see Dortmund losing at Gladbach. Jürgen Klopp's boys have weathered what was a minor shower rather than a storm to get back to winning ways and with no real challengers to face in the final three weeks, corks will start popping sooner or later.
Prediction: Dortmund 2-0
Sunday, April 24
Wolfsburg - Cologne
Magath is running out of time to rescue the ailing Wolves
Wolfsburg are in deep trouble even if they're not quite in the automatic relegation places just yet. Felix Magath hasn't got much time left to really turn things around and the Wolves are looking toothless at a time when they should be clawing and biting their way to safety. Cologne have recovered sufficiently from a mostly inept season to get clear of the drop zone themselves but still show that they are susceptible to meltdowns, as the home defeat to Stuttgart last week showed. If Wolfsburg are going to survive, they're going to need all the points here. We don’t think they'll get them.
Prediction: Cologne 2-1
Nuremberg - Mainz
Mainz are still hanging in there, which is a true testament to the spirit to which they've mounted their challenge this season. Lesser clubs could have tumbled down the lead after seeing a fairytale start evaporate but Mainz have dug deep and got the results to keep their European hopes alive. Nuremberg also have high hopes of making the Europa League and could leapfrog Mainz if they get a home win on Sunday. Both teams won last week to keep the chase on. This one will be all about who blinks first.
Prediction: Mainz 1-0
Last week's results: 3 points
Total for the season: 135 points
Mainz - Gladbach 1-0 (DW Prediction 2-1)
Hamburg - Hannover 0-0 (DW Prediction 3-1)
Wolfsburg - St. Pauli 2-2 (DW Prediction 1-0)
Hoffenheim - Frankfurt 1-0 (DW Prediction 1-1)
Cologne - Stuttgart 1-3 (DW Prediction 3-2)
Kaiserslautern - Nuremberg 0-2 (DW Prediction 2-2)
Bremen - Schalke 1-1 (DW Prediction 2-0)
Bayern - Leverkusen 5-1 (DW Prediction 2-2)
Dortmund - Freiburg 3-0 (DW Prediction 2-0)
Three points for a correct score prediction
Two points for a correct margin prediction
One point for a correct winner prediction
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann