With two matches remaining the prospects of Bayer Leverkusen, last season’s Bundesliga and Champions League runners-up, avoiding the drop, look remote.
The club are on their third coach of the campaign having sacked Klaus Toppmoller earlier in the season and fired his replacement Thomas Hoerster, earlier this week. Former German international Klaus Augenthaler is the new man in charge although the feeling persists that he has arrived too late in the day to halt the slide.
Saturday’s match against 1860 Munich is critical, but with the club lying third from bottom, two points from safety and with their fate out of their hands, even a win may not be sufficient to prevent relegation.
Augenthaler is confident he can save Leverkusen in the last two matches.
‘As a player I was someone who never gave up,’ said Augenthaler.
‘What we have to do is win our last two matches and hope that will be enough.’
Ironically, Augenthaler was sacked by Nurnberg a fortnight agoand in one of those quirks of the fixture list, Leverkusne travel to Nurnberg for their final match of the season. The dubious distinction of coaching two teams to be relegated in the same season, appears to be Augenthaler’s destiny this season.
Leverkusen’s slim hopes are helped by the fact that Arminia Bielefield – the team immediately above them – face a potentially fixture against Hansa Rostock, who themselves are not safe.
At the other end of the table, champions Bayern Munich host third-placed Stuttgart in a match that could have a bearing on which team finishes runners-up this season. Stuttgart are level on points with second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who face a potentially difficult match at Kaiserslautern.
B Munich v Stuttgart
Kaiserslautern v B Dortmund
Hansa Rostock v A Bielefeld
W Bremen v Schalke
Wolfsburg v Hertha Berlin