FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Six teams are still fighting against relegation in the Bundesliga with two rounds remaining in the season, including such traditional clubs as Hamburger SV and Stuttgart.
Hamburg is the only founding member of the Bundesliga that has never been relegated since the league was formed in 1963. Stuttgart was 2007 champion.
But both teams have been struggling in recent seasons and their showdown Saturday could be decisive for both. Stuttgart is last, one point behind three teams tied on 31 points - Paderborn, Hannover and Freiburg. Hamburg is just above at 32.
Hertha Berlin, two points above Hamburg, could rescue itself with a win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Freiburg hosts Bayern Munich, which is recovering from its Champions League semifinal exit against Barcelona and is seeing out the season so that it can celebrate the Bundesliga title and start planning for a revamp of the squad.
Paderborn visits struggling Schalke and Hannover travels to Augsburg, which is seeking to make sure of a place in the Europa League next season.
On the other end of the table, Wolfsburg seeks to defend its second place when it hosts Borussia Dortmund. Borussia Moenchengladbach, two points behind Wolfsburg, visits Werder Bremen.
Here are some things to know about the 33rd Bundesliga round on Saturday:
KACAR TO THE RESCUE?
Gojko Kacar has spent five injury-plagued forgettable seasons at Hamburg and had already been told that his contract would not be renewed once the season is over.
That decision may be reconsidered now that he has scored what could be vital goals for Hamburg. Kacar scored the late winner in Mainz, and then the late equalizer against Freiburg.
Kacar had been dropped from the squad several times by various coaches, sent on loan to Japan and then brought back by new coach Bruno Labbadia when he took over Hamburg late in the season.
Labbadia has indicated that he would like to keep Kacar. The Serb midfielder says “Hamburg is my team.” If Kacar scores again in Stuttgart, he could be earning a new contract in Hamburg.
Hamburg has earned 21 points in 11 matches when Kacar played. Without Kacar, it earned 11 points in 21 matches.
Labbadia knows relegation struggles all too well. He took over Stuttgart midway into the 2010-11 season when the team was next to last. He guided Stuttgart to a 12th-place finish that included an important 3-0 victory over Hamburg with four matches remaining in the season.
Schalke’s coach Huub Stevens also had a stint in Hamburg, but Labbadia does not believe this will have an impact on Saturday’s match.
“Many things have changed in both clubs since Huub and I worked there,” Labbadia said.
Schalke’s management reacted strongly to the team’s lifeless 2-0 loss in Cologne. It released midfielders Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sidney Sam, who were both brought to the club in hopes of becoming leaders. Boateng especially has been a disappointment throughout the season.
Schalke began the season hoping to get into the Champions League again, but it could now miss out on the Europa League too.
Coach Roberto di Matteo’s future at the club appears uncertain and another loss could be the final blow. Promoted Paderborn must win to have a glimmer of hope.
Wolfsburg’s match against Borussia Dortmund is the dress rehearsal for their German Cup final on May 30 in Berlin.
Wolfsburg is assured of playing Champions League next season and wants to finish second. After three winless matches, Wolfsburg won in Paderborn last week.
After touching bottom of the standings halfway into the schedule, Dortmund has a chance of rescuing the season as it prepares for coach Juergen Klopp’s departure and could jump past bitter rival Schalke to grab a place in the Europa League.
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