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Tension mounts as Bundesliga season approaches climax

Even though the title has long been decided, there's plenty to play for in the 2014/15 Bundesliga season. Whether it's top-flight survival or European dreams, there's drama left ahead for the final three games.

The question in Hamburg right now is whether three is the magic number. After a thrilling 3-2 win against Augsburg, HSV followed it up with another three points against Mainz. On Friday, Hamburg are going for the hat-trick. Bruno Labbadia appears to be the inspiration the club needed, Pierre-Michel Lasogga has, finally, found some form in front of goal and the team has remembered how to win. Aside from Lasogga's volley and Gojko Kacar's curler, Hamburg's recent victories haven't been pretty, but at this stage of the season they don't need to be. Remarkably, the club looks set to spring out of a relegation battle that their season's form probably deserved.

Freiburg and Christian Streich have been here before and they tend to have just enough come the final day. Last weekend's defeat to Paderborn threw that into doubt though - Streich's men have now won fewer games than the Bundesliga newcomers. That said, they have also lost fewer games than sixth placed Augsburg, so it's hard to say they're destined for the drop.

"I don't think Hamburg are unbeatable," said Freiburg head coach Christian Streich in his press conference on Thursday. On Friday night, he will have to prove that, of late, they aren't.

Champions League battle

"It's part of it, we can't change it," said Gladbach head coach Lucien Favre on Thursday about Christoph Kramer facing the club he is on loan from and will return to at the end of this season. Kramer's departure will be a huge loss for Gladbach, but one thing they can change is whether or not they make the Champions League next season. Having made it and lost in the playoffs before and with Max Kruse's future seemingly at Wolfsburg, it's important Gladbach don't get distracted.

Deutschland Fußballspieler Christoph Kramer

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Standing in their way, is Leverkusen. After beating Bayern's second-string last weekend, Roger Schmidt's side are now two points behind third-placed Gladbach, so if the visitors do pick up another three points then the final matchday might decide who takes the automatic qualifying spot. Both teams have similarly tough run-ins - Gladbach travel to Bremen before hosting Augsburg, while Leverkusen are at home to Hoffenheim before facing Frankfurt on the road - so this game will likely be the difference.

Bundesliga two-face

At this stage of the season, it's common for two sides to meet heading in opposite directions of the standings. Hertha's visit to Dortmund on Satuday is certainly that though. Jürgen Klopp's side have been down and then up this season, but as the finale approaches they have a chance to set the record straight and sneak into a Europa League spot. Hertha languished, but then came up for air. Having not won a game in over a month and with only four points separating them from the relegation playoff spot, the club from the capital are in danger.

If Dortmund win their remaining games, they stand a chance of closing the gap on sixth. Hertha, who revived themselves after Pal Dardai's appointment, have faced the likes of Bayern and Gladbach recently, but mustn't succumb to poor form in the run-in. Fortunately, they won't have to worry about marking Marco Reus as the BVB forward is out with adductor issues.

Dardai said in his press conference on Thursday that he didn't want his side to be talking about football 24 hours a day, while Klopp commented that Lionel Messi looked up for it on Wednesday night against Bayern. If Dortmund vs. Hertha this weekend warrants more than a day's discussion, then everyone on the field will have been as up for it as Messi was last night.

Fußball Bundesliga Hoffenheim vs Dortmund Klopp

Can Klopp point Dortmund in the right direction?

Elsewhere, Bayern, believe or not, will be looking to stop the rot. Pep's team have lost three on the bounce since they sealed the league title, and Augsburg, still fighting for a Europa League spot, will be ready to send Bayern tumbling towards the end of the season.

Last weekend's draw against Wolfsburg was a welcome surprise for Hannover, but if results don't go their way this weekend and they can't end their 15-game winless streak with three points against Werder, trouble is afoot. Frankfurt against Hoffenheim is the weekend's alternative version of Dortmund's opposite-end-of-the-table battle against Hertha. Stuttgart's sporting director Robin Dutt recently said that it was important no one at the club started thinking it was all over. Unless they beat Mainz on Saturday night, it probably will be.

Paderborn live again after four unpredicted points from their last two games, including a huge win against Freiburg last time out. There will be no points in Wolfsburg, so their eyes will be on where the points end up elsewhere. If Schalke lose on the road to Cologne, then the Europa League will go right down to the wire.

Matchday 32 fixtures: Hamburg vs. Freiburg (Friday), Bayern Munich vs. Augsburg (Saturday), Borussia Dortmund vs. Hertha, Gladbach vs. Leverkusen, Hannover vs. Werder, Frankfurt vs. Hoffenheim, Stuttgart vs. Mainz (Saturday late), Paderborn vs. Wolfsburg (Sunday), Cologne vs. Schalke.

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