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Frankfurt to fight for top-flight status against Nuremberg in Bundesliga playoff

Both Frankfurt and Nuremberg have a rich football history and they will now battle it out for the final place in next season's Bundesliga. The first leg of the relegation playoff is in Frankfurt on Thursday night.

Eintracht Frankfurt will be battling for their Bundesliga status on Thursday night, when they welcome 2.Bundesliga side Nuremberg in the first of a two-legged playoff to see which club will be playing in the German top flight next season.

Following a dramatic, late 1-0 defeat to Werder Bremen in the final matchday of the league campaign, Niko Kovac's side found themselves in 16th place and will now have get past the Grundig Stadium team over both legs to ensure their survival.

"It's effectively two finals, like you'd get in a European Cup," said the Frankfurt coach ahead of Thursday's first leg clash at the Commerzbank Arena. "Except we can't put everything into this first game, because there's a second leg just four days later."

Despite the Eagles' delicate position in the Bundesliga, they have undoubtedly improved under new coach Kovac, looking stronger, fitter and more determined since the Croatian arrived in March.

Frankfurt had picked up just five wins in 25 Bundesliga games before Kovac took over first team responsibilities, yet have won four in nine since then. Despite defeat to Bremen on the final day of the league campaign, the Eagles are on a good run of form.

Bavarian underdogs hopeful of upset

Yet standing in their way will be a Nuremberg side who have won three of their last five games and finished third in the 2.Bundesliga, 12 points clear of St. Pauli in fourth. René Weiler's side have high hopes of reaching the top division and fancy their chances against the lowly Bundesliga side.

"We aren't the favorites, but we have courage, confidence and we're really looking forward to it,” said the 42-year-old coach, who hopes to guide the Bavarian side back to the Bundesliga for the first time since relegation in 2013-14.

Both clubs have a rich history in the German top division - Frankfurt last won the league title in 1959 and Nuremberg in 1968 - and have been fixtures in the top flight for most of their history. In Nuremberg's case, that status has changed a little in recent years as the club have oscillated between the top two divisions.

As a result, both teams carry with them an expectation that they belong in the Bundesliga next season. Yet only one of the two sleeping giants can win the tie and avoid joining Stuttgart and Hannover in the second division in August.

Whoever wins the tie will join RB Leipzig and Freiburg in the Bundesliga next season, while the loser will be forced to contend with life in the lower tier.

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