Bundesliga 2013, Week 31 preview and fixtures: Five teams battle for last Champions League spot

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There's only four games left in the Bundesliga season, and five teams are currently in the running for Germany's fourth spot in next season's Champions League.

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund carried the Bundesliga flag high and proud this week in the UEFA Champions League. Both German clubs thrashed their Spanish opposition to 4-0 and 4-1 scorelines and have one foot on the Wembley pitch for the final. While the two clubs do have more work to do to reach the final, both absolutely love the positions that they're in heading to Spain.

The race for Europe and the race to avoid relegation are heating up throughout the league. Five clubs are within two points of each other for the fourth and final spot in next season's Champions League, and we have four clubs within eight points of each other in an attempt to avoid being relegated and being in the relegation playoff spot

Friday, April 26

Greuther Fürth vs Hannover - 2:30 PM ET / 20:30 CET
I completely understand that I'm going way out on a limb here, but this is the week that Greuther Fürth get their first victory at home in their inaugural season in the Bundesliga. There's no real rhyme or reason to this pick, but I'm really making this pick with my heart. I want Fürth to grab a win in front of their home supporters. Hannover have fallen seven points behind the pace set in the race for the Europa League, and it's beginning to look like their European dream is over for next season.
Prediction: Greuther Fürth 1 - 0 Hannover

Saturday, April 27

Bayer Leverkusen vs Werder Bremen - 9:30 AM ET / 15:30 CET
Stefan Kießling has been lighting up the Bundesliga with 21 goals in what has been his best season. The forward, in combination with Andre Schürrle, has been the key to Bayer Leverkusen's high place in the table and near-lock for next season's Champions League. Werder Bremen are floating just five points out of the relegation zone. Thomas Schaaf's job could be on the line in these final weeks. Even if the club avoids relegation, as is expected, the man who's been with the club since 1972 may find himself unemployed at the end of the season.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 2 - 0 Werder Bremen

Hoffenheim vs Nürnberg - 9:30 AM ET / 15:30 CET
The battle to avoid direct relegation to the 2.Bundesliga between Hoffenheim and Augsburg looks like it's going to go down to the wire. Markus Gisdol's side are three points back of Augsburg and could use a big win at the Rhein-Neckar Arena on Saturday. They shipped five goals last week against Bayer Leverkusen, and they'll be pressured to not repeat that performance. Nürnberg would need a miracle to qualify for next season's Europa League, and they're currently safe from relegation. Michael Wiesinger's side may not have a lot of motivation for this match, but they have enough talent to pull out the win.
Prediction: Hoffenheim 0 - 1 Nürnberg

Bayern Munich vs Freiburg - 9:30 AM ET / 15:30 CET
Bayern Munich are coming off their huge win over Barcelona in Tuesday's Champions League match. With a trip to Spain on the cards for Wednesday, we're likely to get a lot of squad changes in the match this weekend. However, as we've seen all season, Bayern has the deepest squad in world football. Freiburg has seen Max Kruse and Daniel Caligiuri announce that they're leaving the club this summer and has dropped their last two matches, both to Stuttgart. With Schalke losing last week, Freiburg are still within a shout of the Champions League, but this is Bayern Munich we're talking about here.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3 - 0 Freiburg

Wolfsburg vs Borussia Mönchengladbach - 9:30 AM ET / 15:30 CET
After struggling for the majority of the season, Wolfsburg secured their survival in the Bundesliga for another season. Dieter Hecking's side has already been active in the transfer market announcing the signing of Daniel Caligiuri. Players are just fighting for positions for next season over the next few matches. Borussia Mönchengladbach have only lost twice in their last eight matches and have found their way back into the race for the two available Europa League spots awarded by league position. While they weren't able to replace Marco Reus' scoring with one player this season, they have a more balanced offense, but they've struggled to repeat last season's stellar defensive performance without Dante.
Prediction: Wolfsburg 2 - 3 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Augsburg vs Stuttgart - 9:30 AM ET / 15:30 CET
Augsburg lucked out last week that, after they lost to Borussia Mönchengladbach, that both Hoffenheim (three points behind them) and Fortuna Düsseldorf (three points ahead of them) lost also. Stuttgart are safe from relegation and managed to qualify for next season's Europa League by advancing to the DFB Pokal final. They've managed two wins over Freiburg last week which was impressive. Can they repeat it this week?
Prediction: Augsburg 1 - 1 Stuttgart

Fortuna Düsseldorf vs Borussia Dortmund - 12:30 PM ET / 18:30 CET
Fortuna Düsseldorf are three points out of the relegation zone, but they've been unable to piece together the points in recent weeks to put more distance between themselves and those at the bottom of the table. They have a near-impossible task this weekend, when they host Borussia Dortmund. It would be beyond shocking if BVB slipped out of second place, and they have Tuesday's match in Madrid to keep under consideration. Expect an easy route for Die Borussen.
Prediction: Fortuna Düsseldorf 0 - 3 Borussia Dortmund

Sunday, April 28

Mainz vs Eintracht Frankfurt - 9:30 AM ET / 15:30 CET
Sunday is an important day for the race for the Champions League. If Eintracht Frankfurt manage a win in Mainz, the pressure would be on Schalke and Hamburg to pick up three points or risk falling behind. Mainz have struggled as of late, but Adam Szalai is a threat to score every time he steps on the pitch. Frankfurt picked up a massive win last week against Schalke. A win on Saturday moves them ever closer to European football.
Prediction: Mainz 1 - 2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Schalke vs Hamburg - 11:30 AM ET / 17:30 CET
Schalke desperately need three points if they're to find themselves in the Champions League next season. The fact that they've kept up this challenge this long without Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has been impressive... to me, at least. Julian Draxler has emerged as a star for Die Königsblauen and has helped move them toward Europe. Hamburg picked up a big win last week thanks to the brilliant play of Rafael Van der Vaart, but they'll need more out of Heung-Min Son this week to keep the dream alive.
Prediction: Schalke 2 - 1 Hamburg

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