Werder Bremen's clash with Stuttgart is not only a relegation six pointer, but is the first Monday night game in the Bundesliga for 16 years. Many Stuttgart fans have refused to make the long journey to northern Germany.
Just two points separate Werder Bremen and Stuttgart in the standings as they prepare to meet in both teams' third-last game of the season. Not only is the match crucial on both clubs' efforts to avoid the drop, but it also comes amid uproar from supporters at the Bundesliga's decision to schedule the match on a Monday.
Next season, there will be at least five Monday night matches as the Bundesliga looks to fragment the schedule, with the hope of increasing broadcasting revenues. But the proposal has been met with anger from supporters' organizations.
Fewer than 800 Stuttgart supporters from an allocation of 4,000 are expected to make the journey of more than 600 kilometers (400 miles) to Bremen for Monday night's contest. Members of the prominent supporters organization "Canstatter Commando" are among those who won't be at the Weser-Stadion. Some Stuttgart fans had booked their travel weeks in advance, and a Monday match didn't fit in with their plans.
Several thousand Stuttgart fans protested against the introduction of Monday games before the team departed for Bremen on Sunday.
"As bitter as it is to us that a lot of fans are not going, we have to understand their decision," Stuttgart's sporting director, Robin Dutt, said. "It's great that they want to come out on Sunday before we leave. It's a great gesture and a good sign."
While a number of Werder Bremen fan groups have also said they will boycott the match, the home side are expected to fill their 35,000-capacity stadium.
The green-and-whites are coming off the back of derby defeat to Hamburg, which left them second-from-bottom following Eintracht Frankfurt's win at Darmstadt on Saturday. Bremen now sit in 17th place on 31 points, two points shy of the relegation playoff place in the table - the spot that would have to play the third-best team in the second division to stay in the Bundesliga.
Bremen coach Viktor Skripnik knows only a win will do on Monday evening.
"We need to deliver, we are not afraid," he said after his side’s mini-training camp on Saturday evening.
Bremen have been given a boost by captain Clemens Fritz's decision to postpone his planned retirement. The 35-year-old veteran, who had announced back in January that he would retire at the end of this campaign, has now signed a one-year contract extension, valid for both the Bundesliga and the second division.
"When it came down to it I felt that I couldn’t leave the club after a season like this, I have to continue," Fritz said. "After the season is over I want to work to make things better. I will show everyone that we are a team and that we can achieve more. If worst comes to worst I will guide Werder back to the top division."
Winless in six
While Bremen can also take encouragement from their surprising 3-2 victory over Wolfsburg on Matchday 30, Stuttgart, who are in 15th place in the table on 33 points, haven't won in their last six games. Four of those contests have ended in defeat and they have scored just one goal in their last three matches.
In terms of personnel, Kevin Grosskreutz remains injured and is not expected to return until the final game of the season against Mainz. Stuttgart coach Jürgen Kramny has also confirmed that No. 1 goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton will be between the sticks in Bremen, dismissing reports that his Australian deputy, Mitch Langerak, could get the call.
"We will not change in that position," Kramny said. "Every decision we make, we make with conviction."