Paderborn had an impressive first half of the season, but the second failed to deliver the same success. The Bundesliga newcomers are threatened with a return to the second division after only a year in the top flight.
The maths: Unlikely
The situation is clear for Paderborn on Saturday. They must beat relegation-rivals Stuttgart at home to even have a chance of making the relegation playoff spot. At the same time, Andre Breitenreiter's side need a favor from Schalke, who travel to Hamburg not allowed to lose in the eyes of Paderborn fans. After an unfortunate 1-0 defeat to Schalke last weekend, Paderborn could end up being beaten by the Royal Blues "twice" in seven days.
After a great start to the season, Paderborn have only collected 12 points in the second half of the season - only Hannover (10) have collected fewer. The Bundesliga newboys are also the worst home team, having drawn too many (6) and won too few (4) in front of their own fans. It is at moments like this that the 2-2 draw against Werder Bremen on matchday 30 hurts the most.
That day, Paderborn gave away a two-goal lead and had only two of their six home draws gone the way of Breitenreiter's side, they might have been in a much better position in the relegation battle.
The mood: Hopeful
Unlike their relegation rivals, Paderborn decided against an extra training camp (cost playing some part) ahead of this weekend's action. "We are playing at home. We've made it hard for every opponent who has come here. We'll do all we can to seal the win. The lads are dying to win," said the head coach. On Wednesday's training session, that anticipation was clear to see. Breitenreiter reacted furiously, saying: "Half-hearted isn't enough! If we do that, Stuttgart will eat us alive. Messing about won't work."
Last season Paderborn secured Bundesliga promotion with a 2-1 win against Aalen on the final matchday. Their dreams of repeating another football wonder live on - the club has even invited 51 chimney sweeps to the stadium on Saturday, in the hope of capturing that last bit of fortune.
The prognosis: A project on the rocks
All signs are pointing towards relegation. Just how much hangs on the game against Stuttgart was something Breitenreiter highlighted: "If you're still in it at the end, then you can lose it all, even if no one bet on us."
Paderborn certainly has something to lose. Relegation would spell the departure of their best players, with new ones not yet in sight. The club's project is in trouble. A second-division budget of seven-million euros would make a return to the top flight even harder. Breitenreiter knows this, but his name is already on the list of a number of Bundesliga clubs.