Preview: Dortmund out to redeem poor season, Hamburg face relegation

Reuters , Saturday 21 Apr 2018

Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze in action with Schalke's Daniel Caligiuri (Photo: Reuters)

Borussia Dortmund will look to redeem a disappointing Bundesliga season with victory over fellow Champions League contenders Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday as former European champions Hamburg SV teeter on the brink of an historic relegation.

The Ruhr valley club were pre-season title contenders and six wins in their first seven Bundesliga matches had reinforced that view.

Yet it went quickly downhill for Dortmund with Dutch coach Peter Bosz departing after only a few months in charge and Peter Stoeger taking over.

The Austrian enjoyed a good start this year but last week's derby defeat to Schalke 04 meant their rivals stayed in second place on 55 points, as Dortmund slipped to fourth on 51 with four games left in the season.

The result, coupled with their disappointing Europa League exit to Salzburg last month, mean Dortmund are unlikely to extend Stoeger's contract, according to German media reports.

Dortmund, who will be without injured striker Michy Batshuayi, will face a Leverkusen side wounded by their 6-2 demolition at the hands of Bayern Munich in their midweek German Cup semi-final.

Leverkusen are hungry for success and in third place with a slightly better goal difference than Dortmund.

Should Dortmund lose then waiting in the wings for a shot at a top-four finish and a Champions League group stage spot next season are RB Leipzig, in fifth on 47. They host sixth-placed Hoffenheim (46 points) on Saturday.

Hamburg have been in the Bundesliga since 1963 but their record run in the top division could come to an end this weekend when they face 16th-placed Freiburg, who sit in the relegation playoff spot.

Former European champions Hamburg are languishing eight points behind Freiburg in 17th place.

Hamburg are the only club to have played in every season since the creation of the Bundesliga 55 years ago, but defeat to Freiburg in combination with wins for VfL Wolfsburg and Mainz 05 would send Hamburg into the second division.

"We are not naive and we know that the situation going into the last four matches is not improved," said Hamburg chairman Frank Wettstein. "But that does not change our approach to the games. Only victories can help us use our final chance."

Wettstein said relegation was already part of the club's planning.

"Obviously relegation would be very sad. But it is a scenario we have been forced to deal with for some time. But we still have one chance even if most people have already written us off."

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