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Sports

What to look out for on matchday 26 of the Bundesliga this weekend

Here's what DW's Bundesliga experts are looking out for on matchday 26 with focus on Wolfsburg's attack, a slump at Leverkusen, the third-against-fourth battle in Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt's new coach.

Harding: Crunch time for surprise-package Hertha Berlin

This is the game that might well decide who will be in the Champions League next year. Hertha have surprised everyone this season, but looked tired last time out against Hamburg. Head coach Pal Dardai suggested that maybe the busy schedule was catching up with his team - but the rest of the league could say the same.

The difference for Hertha this season is where they are in the table. With Gladbach, Leverkusen, Bayern and Mainz still to play, this game looks a certain turning point for Hertha. Schalke seem to have overcome their traditional crisis and quietly picked up back-to-back wins at home against Hamburg and away at Cologne. With Leroy Sané's form fading, Max Meyer has stepped up, quietly reigniting the belief that André Breitenreiter hasn't lost the team and can steer Schalke into a fourth-place finish. A win in the capital would go a long way to proving that.

Bienkowski: Attacking spark has breathed life into Wolfsburg

Contrary to popular belief, Wolfsburg have actually been rather impressive of late with a run of form in the Bundesliga that has seen them lose just one game - to Bayern Munich - in their last five. At the start of 2016, Wolfsburg sat in mid-table, yet now they sit just four points off a crucial Champions League qualification spot. This has come about through stand-out performers like Julian Draxler, André Schürrle and Max Kruse, all of whom have stepped up a gear in the past few weeks. Whether it be the Champions League or Bundesliga, Wolfsburg have got the job done thanks to their key attacking talent.

Standing in Wolfsburg's late rush to the top four this weekend is Hoffenheim, a side which has looked somewhat formidable since it appointed new coach Julian Nagelsmann. Despite a heavy defeat to Stuttgart last weekend, Nagelsman has orchestrated two home wins from two since he took over - against Mainz and Augsburg - and will fancy his chances against Wolfsburg. It will be interesting to see if Wolfsburg can pass such tricky tests or whether this new-look Hoffenheim are too much for Draxler & Co.

Niko Kovac

Niko Kovac will take charge of Frankfurt for a crunch game at Mönchengladbach

Van Opdorp: Frankfurt's change of coach will make little difference

With nine games left, the relegation battle is beginning to take shape. Eintracht Frankfurt were nowhere near the bottom in autumn, but a bad string of results have sucked them down the table. The club finally made a leadership change, ending the failed return of Armin Veh and replacing him with former Bundesliga player Niko Kovac.

He is the third coach imported to a Bundesliga club this season, and based on the results of Huub Stevens and Thomas Schaaf, Frankfurt shouldn't feel too at ease with Kovac's appointment. Kovac won't have an easy start to his tenure either, having to contain Borussia Mönchengladbach and their high-powered attack. The way the Eagles are playing on both sides of the pitch, they could slip to their second relegation in six seasons - and there is not much Kovac can do in nine matches to prevent that from happening.

Dunbar: Hamburg could pile more pressure on Leverkusen

With one win out of their last six games, Roger Schmidt is weathering a bit of a storm in Leverkusen. The Europa League defeat in Spain means the Germans have a battle to win on Thursday when a classy Villarreal team come calling. As the opportunity for success in the Europa League slips away, Schmidt's team simply has to start delivering in the Bundesliga. The table doesn't look pretty for Leverkusen either, the Werkself six points behind Hertha Berlin in eighth. Leverkusen look jaded, running low on confidence and in match-winning ability. On Sunday, Hamburg present an uncomfortable proposition at home in the league.

When Schmidt's side has returned from European affairs, domestic form has taken a nose dive. In the 10 league games that have followed European meetings, Leverkusen have won just three of them. Hamburg are five points behind and have finally found some magic in the second half of the season under Bruno Labbadia. If Hamburg can put together the sort of performances that have seen them beat Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach in recent weeks, then Leverkusen are in trouble. Given the number of strikes of Schmidt's report card at the minute, the German coach cannot afford another slip-up.