The 2015/16 Bundesliga season comes to a close on Saturday and there is still plenty to play for.
FC Bayern München wrapped up the title last week, but at the bottom of the table the relegation battle is yet be decided, while there will be a number of farewells, some fonder than others.
The relegation dogfight
Hannover 96 have been consigned to the drop for some time now, but who will join them in 2. Bundesliga next season remains to be seen. The fate of Eintracht Frankfurt, SV Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart hangs in the balance, with Stuttgart and Bremen the most vulnerable.
Frankfurt’s surprise win over Borussia Dortmund last time out lifted them clear of the relegation play-off berth, with Bremen’s 0-0 draw with 1. FC Köln not enough to see them drop down a spot.
To add to the intrigue, Frankfurt face Bremen on the final day, with the winner guaranteed safety. A draw will also be enough for Niko Kovač’s Frankfurt side.
If neither Bremen nor Stuttgart – who face VfL Wolfsburg – win, or if Bremen draw and Stuttgart win by less than a seven-goal margin, then it’s Bremen who stay up, albeit in the play-off berth. However, if Bremen draw or lose and Stuttgart win by more than a six-goal margin then it’s Bremen who will suffer automatic relegation.
Europa League qualification at stake
1. FSV Mainz 05, Hertha Berlin and FC Schalke 04 are all set to play in the Europa League next season (technically Borussia Mönchengladbach in fourth can be caught, but with an 11-goal cushion it’s unlikely), but the tussle is still on to see who will avoid the arduous task of avoiding the early-season qualifiers.
Fifth-placed Mainz are in prime position for a spot in the group stage as they host sixth-placed Hertha, and will progress as long as they avoid defeat on Saturday. Should Mainz win and Schalke pick up a point against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim then it’s Hertha who will have the briefest of end-of-season breaks.
Hummels’ home farewell
There will be mixed emotions when Dortmund skipper Mats Hummels steps out at the Westfalenstadion for the last time. Hummels will return to Bayern, where he began his career, next season, and while some fans are angered by his decision, the defender has been a massive figure at Dortmund during his eight-and-half years in black and yellow.
The game will not be Hummels’ last though, as BVB still have the small matter of a DFB-Pokal showdown against Bayern to look forward to.
Pep signs off in style
Bayern will be presented with a record 26th Bundesliga title on Saturday, with the Allianz Arena set to be the scene of celebrations of epic proportions.
The clash with Hannover will also be Pep Guardiola’s last league fixture at the helm of the Bavarians. While the Spaniard has been unable to bring European success to the club, he leaves for Manchester City having overseen a period of great prosperity domestically.