Hertha face Haaland in final push for Bundesliga survival
Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland will be out to make his final mark on the Bundesliga this Saturday by breaking Hertha Berlin hearts on the last day of a gruelling relegation fight.
Norwegian star Haaland will make his last appearance for Dortmund against Hertha this weekend before completing a long-awaited move to Manchester City for the start of next season.
While the game is a dead rubber for second-placed Dortmund, Haaland and his team-mates could still condemn Hertha to the relegation play-off place.
Hertha are currently three points adrift of safety, but their inferior goal difference means they could still slip behind third-from-bottom Stuttgart if they lose to Dortmund.
Having not won in Dortmund since 2013, the outlook is bleak for the embattled capital club.
Hertha coach Felix Magath has said his team are “prepared” for the worst case scenario of being forced into the relegation play-offs.
“I’ve been prepared for this scenario since the day I arrived,” said Magath, who was brought in to save Hertha in March, in an interview with Bild newspaper on Tuesday.
Stuttgart’s American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo, meanwhile, has said his side will “get our bit of the job done” when they take on Cologne.
Matarazzo has been under mounting pressure in a turbulent third year in charge of the club, as his side have struggled to emulate the form which saw them promoted in 2020 and finish in the top half of the table in 2021.
“We can only do our job and hope Hertha don’t pick up points,” he said after his side kept themselves in the race with an unlikely 2-2 draw away at champions Bayern Munich last weekend.
At the other end of the table, Freiburg are still hoping to complete a sensational bid for the top four when they travel to Bayer Leverkusen.
The high-flying minnows were on course to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history until defeat to Union Berlin last weekend saw them slip back into fifth, two points behind RB Leipzig.
Leipzig remain favourites to claim the fourth Champions League spot, as they travel to second-from-bottom Arminia Bielefeld.
Meanwhile, Union Berlin are hoping to defend their Europa League spot as they celebrate a second successive year in Europe at home to Bochum.
High-fliers Union are two points ahead of Cologne, who are currently on course to qualify for the Europa Conference League in seventh.
One to watch: Nico Schlotterbeck
The Germany defender will make his final appearance for home club Freiburg before a 20-million-euro move to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
The highly rated 22-year-old centre-back will be hoping to leave with a bang after a dip in form since the transfer was announced earlier this month.
Freiburg’s hopes of Champions League qualification were dashed when they conceded three goals for the third game in a row last weekend, but coach Christian Streich defended rising star Schlotterbeck.
“He is young and ambitious, and it is normal that he makes mistakes from time to time,” said Streich.
61 – Goals Erling Haaland has scored in 66 league appearances for Borussia Dortmund since joining in January 2020.
7 – Swing in goal difference second-from-bottom Arminia Bielefeld need on top of beating Leipzig if they are to have a chance of staying up.
44 – Years departing sporting director Michael Zorc has been at Borussia Dortmund since joining as a youth player in 1978.
Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT)
Borussia Dortmund v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen v Freiburg, Union Berlin v VfL Bochum, Borussia Moenchengladbach v Hoffenheim, VfB Stuttgart v Cologne, Mainz 05 v Eintracht Frankfurt, Augsburg v Greuther Fuerth, Arminia Bielefeld v RB Leipzig
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.