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Under-pressure Bundesliga clubs face off as relegation threat looms

As the alarm bells ring in Stuttgart, Thomas Schneider will take charge against Eintracht Braunschweig. But staying clear of the relegation trapdoor is also the target for Hamburg, Nürnberg, Hannover and Freiburg.

No less than eight teams are being sucked into the relegation battle in the Bundesliga. Some of those candidates for the drop are up against each other this weekend, such as when HSV host Eintracht Frankfurt.

With just 16 points from 19 matches, Hamburg are in the thick of it. The Bundesliga's ever-presents can only hope Monday's announcement from Frankfurt head coach Armin Veh -

turning down a contract extension and confirming an exit at the end of the season

- will unsettle their opponents.

Frankfurt have edged towards mid-table in the second half of the season, joining Hannover on 25 points. Tayfun Korkut is the Reds' second coach this campaign, with Slomka already sent packing. They travel to another club struggling for form in Bayer Leverkusen, and Korkut knows: “The bruised boxer is always dangerous.”

A genuine relegation six-point match takes place when Nuremberg host Werder Bremen in Saturday's later game. The home side are 15th on the table with 23 points, while Bremen sit 13th on 25. Things are also uncomfortable for Freiburg, who are in 17th position and take on Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.

Schneider's job on the line

Stuttgart's Vedad Ibisevic and Ermin Bicakcic earlier in the campaign. Photo: dpa

Stuttgart are expecting a sterner test than the one Braunschweig posed earlier in the season.

But under the greatest pressure is, perhaps, the coach of Stuttgart: Thomas Schneider. A loss against Eintracht Braunschweig would be the club's ninth straight and would likely cost him his job. Despite the pressure, Schneider did not want to talk about his personal 'end game.'

"It's not about terminology like that,” he said. "I'm glad that I have this opportunity." He also added: "When you lose eight games, it makes you start to think."

Stuttgart's Sporting Director Fredi Bobic stressed that the decision to stand by Schneider had been taken with "full conviction." At the same time, the former striker hinted the stance was not guaranteed for the entire season.

"We are realists," Bobic said. "But we want to have positive form for the end of the season." Schneider is sure that they can succeed in Braunschweig. He does not expect a repeat of the 4-0 win the first time the two teams this season, however.

"They have adapted in the league," he said of his side's opponents. Schneider knows Braunschweig, who were deemed certainties for the drop, loom as a dangerous prospect for crisis-ridden Stuttgart.

Life at the top

Other clubs have entirely different concerns: leaders Bayern Munich are out to claim a 16th-consecutive win in the league at Wolfsburg on Saturday, which would maintain their 48-match unbeaten run. Elsewhere, Schalke must bounce back from the eleven goals shipped in the debacles against Real Madrid and Bayern when they host Hoffenheim.

Borussia Mönchengladbach will attempt once more to find a way out of their downward spiral - they are without a win in the second half of the season - when they take on Augsburg. In the final match, on Sunday, Mainz and Hertha Berlin are out to keep their European dreams alives.

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