Freiburg′s Champions League fight marks Bundesliga′s final weekend | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 17.05.2013
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Freiburg's Champions League fight marks Bundesliga's final weekend

With the Bundesliga's final matches of the season about to be played, there's still plenty up in the air. Freiburg and Schalke duel for the last Champions League spot while three sides at the bottom fight for survival.

Bayern Munich may have wrapped up the league title months ago and Greuther Fürth may have been relegated in April but that is no reason to ignore the Bundesliga's final match day.

At the top, fourth place Schalke are traveling to fifth place Freiburg. At the bottom, Hoffenheim, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Augsburg are all hoping to avoid the drop.

Reaching the Champions League

Certainly the marquee match on Saturday afternoon will be Freiburg against Schalke. The Gelsenkirchen club needs only to draw against their southern opponents to assure themselves Champions League football next season. A win for Freiburg would send the side into Europe's top club competition for the first ever time.

Eintracht Frankfurt, meanwhile, will be hoping for a draw in Freiburg to keep their slim Champions League hopes alive. Should Frankfurt beat Wolfsburg by a margin of five goals and Schalke and Freiburg finish level, it would be Frankfurt heading to the Champions League.

More than anything, there is money on the line. UEFA estimates the gross commercial revenue of this season's Champions League to be around 1.34 billion euros ($1.72 billion). A large chunk of that revenue is shared among clubs participating in the group stage. Clubs playing in the playoffs collect a fixed amount of 2.1 million euros.

FUERTH, GERMANY - MAY 11: Goalkeeper Oliver Baumann of Freiburg and team-mates celebrate victory after the Bundesliga match between SpVgg Greuther Fuerth and SC Freiburg at Trolli-Arena on May 11, 2013 in Fuerth, Germany. (Photo by Micha Will/Bongarts/Getty Images)

A win on Saturday would mean Freiburg enjoy the riches of the Champions League next season

The Europa League, by contrast, is expected to have a gross commercial revenue of around 225 million euros. Still decent money, but not nearly on the scale of the Champions League.

Nonetheless Freiburg Coach Christian Streich is taking a simple approach to what's at stake in the match.

"Schalke are fourth and we are fifth and after the game this concern is over," Streich told reporters this week

Freiburg's dream season

Reaching the Champions League is nothing less than expected for big-spending Schalke, especially since Coach Jens Keller's December appointment stopped the club's freefall down the league table.

For Freiburg, however, Champions League qualification would mark the end of what has been an incredible campaign for the club. On a relatively tiny budget, Streich has managed to guide his club into the upper echelons of Bundesliga football.

Led by exciting young attackers like Max Kruse (who just earned his first call-up to the German national team) and Daniel Caligiuri, Freiburg have played some of the most entertaining football in the league this season.

There's just one problem, Kruse and Caligiuri are moving to Borussia Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg respectively next season. Add to that the impending departures of Jan Rosenthal and Johannes Flum to Eintracht Frankfurt and Freiburg are suddenly looking quite thin for a team hoping to play top-level European football.

Three-way fight for survival

At the bottom of the table Hoffenheim, Düsseldorf and Augsburg are all looking to avoid the drop. Hoffenheim are sitting in the worst spot of the three. After a dismal season the club occupies the league's 17th and second automatic relegation spot with 28 points. Augsburg sit in the 16th place relegation playoff spot on 30 points, with Düsseldorf just edging them out on goal difference.

SINSHEIM, GERMANY - MAY 11: David Abraham of Hoffenheim lies on the pitch during the Bundesliga match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Hamburger SV at Rhein-Neckar-Arena on May 11, 2013 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Bongarts/Getty Images)

It's been a year to forget for Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim have the nearly impossible task of playing away to Borussia Dortmund in a must-win game. They can at least be thankful that Dortmund will have one eye on the Champions League final, but with the big game a week away, Jürgen Klopp is expected to field a first-choice side.

Augsburg have arguably the easiest of never-easy matches this weekend. They host the already-relegated Greuther Fürth. Düsseldorf, meanwhile, travel to Hannover, who have lost just three times at home this season.

Whoever sits in the relegation playoff spot after Saturday afternoon will have the pleasure of playing Kaiserslautern. The club secured third place in Germany's second tier last weekend after a 3-1 win over last place Jahn Regensburg.

Jupp goes home

For Bayern Munich's Jupp Heynckes, his Bundesliga career will end where it all began, at Borussia Mönchengladbach. He is stepping down as Bayern's head coach at the end of the season to make way for ex-Barcelona man Pep Guardiola.

Bayern Munich's coach Jupp Heynckes holds the trophy as his team celebrates after their German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Augsburg in Munich, May 11, 2013. Bayern held their 23rd German league title on Saturday after a comfortable 3-0 over Augsburg as they prepare for the all-German Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund in two weeks. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Heynckes had a happy sendoff last weekend in Munich

The 68-year-old Heynckes started his career with Gladbach as a player in 1963, going on to play some 300 times for the club and score more than 200 goals. He also picked up four Bundesliga titles and a German Cup along the way.

As a coach he spent nearly a decade at the helm of the club from 1979 to 1987 and again for part of the 2006-07 season, though he never enjoyed the same success as coach that he did as a player.

After already receiving an emotional sendoff last weekend when Bayern hoisted the league trophy in Munich, Heynckes can expect a similarly emotional afternoon before family and friends in Mönchengladbach.

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