Bundesliga Preview, Matchday 31: Relegation Friday!

FREIBURG IM BREISGAU, GERMANY - APRIL 21: Steven Cherundolo, team captain of Hannover gives instructions to his team mates during the Bundesliga match between SC Freiburg and Hannover 96 at Badenova Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Bayern and Hannover battle for Europe, while St. Pauli and Mönchengladbach try to avoid relegation.

Friday features two MASSIVE relegation matches. In fact, I'm not convinced that massive is a good enough word to describe it. On to the matches...

Friday, April 29

Werder Bremen vs Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg are looking to continue their rise from the relegation zone, but it will be a tough task against a Werder Bremen side who will guarantee their with a win. Felix Magath brings Wolfsburg back to the place where he used to manage (one of the man clubs, I know) with victory on his mind. Along with Magath, for the first time Brazilian playmaker Diego returns to the play he called home for three years before moving to Juventus last season. Wolfsburg have no injury concerns, but Bremen will be without Sebastian Prödl and Tim Borowski. Bremen haven't lost a match since February 19. They only have one defeat in their last eleven matches. Wolfsburg could leap all the way to 14th with a victory. Pick: Werder Bremen 1 - 2 Wolfsburg

Kaiserslautern vs St. Pauli

This is our first "If you don't win, you're relegated." match of the year. St. Pauli travel to Kaiserslautern where they have never won. That's definitely not a good sign for St. Pauli. If they lose this match and other results don't go their way, St. Pauli will be relegated. A victory for the home side won't guarantee survival in the top flight, but Kaiserslautern have to believe that they're safe with a win. Unfortunately for fans of St. Pauli, the task looks nearly impossible. They will be without Fabian Boll, Rouwen Hennings, Thomas Kessler, and Matthias Hain along with three already out for the season in Carlos Zambrano, Bastian Oczipka, and Carsten Rothenbach. Sigh. I actually wanted St. Pauli to stay in the Bundesliga. Pick: Kaiserslautern 2 - 1 St. Pauli

Saturday, April 30

Borussia Dortmund vs Nürnberg

Dortmund lost an absolute shocker last week to second from bottom 'Gladbach. The absense of Nuri Şahin was evident as Dortmund was unable to produce that moment of brilliance to get the goal last week. They'll be visited this weekend from a better side in Nürnberg who, in all fairness, are struggling in their own right. Nürnberg will be without American right back/midfielder Timothy Chandler, who is out after getting a nasty cut on his foot in training this week. Dortmund have a shot at winning the championship this weekend if results go there way. Nürnberg will be hoping for a favorable result in this match and then the match featuring Mainz 05. Pick: Borussia Dortmund 2 - 0 Nürnberg

Hamburg vs Freiburg

Both sides are safe from relegation and neither side will qualify for Europe. I never want to say, "Don't watch this match.", but there are more entertaining matches to watch. Pick: Hamburg 1 - 1 Freiburg

Mainz vs Frankfurt

This match is important for both sides. Mainz is doing their best to hold their position for the final Europa League spot awarded to Germany. Mainz set a Bundesliga record earlier this season when they took 21 points from their first 7 matches. Since that time, they've only been able to take 28 points from 24 matches. Frankfurt is in a must-win game or else they will fall into the relegation zone with results going against them. They started so well earlier this year but have since fallen further and further down the table. I don't think Mainz will make a mistake this week. They will bring home all three points, dooming Frankfurt further into the relegation battle. Pick: Mainz 2 - 0 Frankfurt

Hoffenheim vs Stuttgart

Stuttgart have been very impressive in their last two matches, and they appear to be escaping any danger of a possible relegation battle. Hoffenheim are just kind of coasting midtable right now on 40 points. They aren't really threatening either way. I think you see the visitors go in for the kill in this match and come out winners. Pick: Hoffenheim 2 - 3 Stuttgart

Köln vs Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen can continue to put pressure on the leaders Dortmund with a victory against severely struggling Köln. The home side are teetering precariously just 3 points above the relegation zone. Their form in recent weeks has been awful. In their last five matches, they've scored 6 goals while conceding 18 and winning only 3 points. The visitors will come in smelling the blood in the water and hoping to continue putting the pressure on Dortmund. Leverkusen know to have any shot at winning the championship they must win their last three matches. Pick: Köln 0 - 3 Bayer Leverkusen

Hannover 96 vs Borussia Mönchengladbach

Hannover currently sit only 1 point ahead of defending champions Bayern München. Unfortunately for 'Gladbach, Hannover are in good form. In the last five matches, only Leverkusen and Bayern have been better. The visitors will be doing whatever they can to get a win on the road. A loss spells doom and a trip back down to the 2.Bundesliga for the club. Hannover needs the win to stay ahead of Bayern in the race for the Champions league. Captain Steve Cherundolo will do all he can to steer his club to Europe's greatest tournament. Pick: Hannover 2 - 1 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Bayern München vs Schalke 04

Schalke comes to the Allianz Arena just four days after being embarrassed by Manchester United in the Champions League. The 0-2 scoreline was very flattering to the Germans, as they could have been down by 3 goals at halftime without the heroics of Manuel Neuer in the net. Speaking of Neuer, he is currently the number one target of Bayern for this summer. Neuer has not renewed his contract at Schalke, and he is reported to be seeking a move to a bigger club. After their extremely poor performance last weekend in Frankfurt, the defending champions will be looking to strike early and often against Schalke. Bayern need the victory to stay with Hannover who are hosting relegation-bound Mönchengladbach and are almost assured a win. Pick: Bayern München 1 - 0 Schalke 04

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