- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

BERLIN (AP) - Three rounds of games remain in the Bundesliga, increasing the pressure on the sides fighting to avoid the drop and those battling for European football next season. League champion Bayern Munich is preoccupied with overturning its narrow loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal, while time is running out for Eintracht Braunschweig, Nuremberg and Hamburger SV. Stuttgart, which took a big step toward survival last weekend, gets the 32nd round of games underway at Hannover on Friday. Here are five things to know:


The bottom three appear to be slugging it out among themselves with Stuttgart four points clear of the relegation zone.

Braunschweig (25 points), Nuremberg (26) and Hamburg (27) are eying the relegation playoff spot as their most likely hope for Bundesliga survival. Currently occupied by Hamburg, it pits the 16th-placed club against the third-place finisher in the second division over two games for a place in the 18-team top flight.

Braunschweig has arguably the easiest end-of-season run in, with games against Hertha Berlin, Augsburg and Hoffenheim. Nuremberg, which sacked its coach on Wednesday, plays Mainz, Hannover and Schalke, while Hamburg faces Augsburg, Bayern Munich and Mainz.


Nuremberg sacked Gertjan Verbeek on Wednesday after a run of eight defeats from nine games and former under-23 coach Roger Prinzen has been charged with saving the side’s season.

His task begins Saturday at Mainz.

“Everybody believes we’re already relegated but I firmly believe we’ll stay up,” Prinzen said. “We’re only a point off the relegation playoff place. I know what the team is capable of. We want to call on that with all of our might in the remaining games.”

Mainz is aiming to defend seventh place, enough to secure European football next season.


Bayer Leverkusen also has its eyes on Europe, with the priority on defending fourth place for the last Champions League spot. Leverkusen has two wins from two games under interim coach Sascha Lewandowski since Sami Hyypia was fired, but faces a tough task Saturday evening against in-form Borussia Dortmund.

“If we miss out on the Champions League we’ll be disappointed,” said Leverkusen managing director Michael Schade, whose side has only a one-point lead over Wolfsburg.

Second-placed Dortmund is on a five-game winning streak across all competitions including impressive wins over Bayern and Real Madrid.


Wolfsburg is guaranteed Europa League football next season but has set its sights on fourth place and a place in the Champions League.

“If Leverkusen slip up then we’ll happily accept it,” Wolfsburg striker Ivica Olic told the Bundesliga website.

His side hosts Freiburg on Saturday, when both sides will be depleted due to suspension. Wolfsburg is without midfielder Luiz Gustavo, while Freiburg, all but safe for another season, will be without defender Oliver Sorg and midfielder Felix Klaus.

Borussia Moenchengladbach, four points behind Wolfsburg, visits third-placed Schalke on Sunday.


On Saturday, Werder Bremen visits a Bayern side distracted by Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal home leg against Real Madrid.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola made no secret of his priorities after his side clinched the Bundesliga in record time, and the Spaniard will surely be preoccupied with overturning the 1-0 deficit against Madrid after Bayern’s loss in the Spanish capital on Wednesday.

It was Bayern’s third defeat from six games across all competitions, though the dream of repeating last season’s unprecedented league-cup-Champions League treble is still alive.

“I’m more optimistic than I was before the away game,” Guardiola said referring to Tuesday’s upcoming game.

Bremen has more modest priorities. The side needs just one point from its last three games to guarantee Bundesliga survival.

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