The Bundesliga reaches its climax on Saturday, and there is still plenty of play. But what should you be looking out for this weekend? Here, we discuss five of the biggest talking points.
1 | 2,000 fans at Union Berlin vs RB Leipzig
The lack of supporters across Europe’s stadiums has made this campaign a difficult one. The atmosphere produced by fans in Germany is one of the Bundesliga’s unique selling points, and the Stadion an der Alten Försterei has garnered a cult reputation thanks to the passionate Union Berlin supporters that usually fill its 22,012 capacity.
Last term, home advantage was hugely important for the Berliners – they picked up 27 of their 41 points on their own turf, with the intimidating atmosphere proving too difficult to handle for plenty of their competitors. The prospect of matches behind closed doors this season will have worried no club more than Union, yet they have managed to improve on their previous return, picking up 29 points at the Alten Försterei with one game still to play.
Urs Fischer’s side have laughed in the face of any second-season syndrome fears and, heading into the final matchday, they are within touching distance of qualifying for the Europa Conference League. In order to do so, they will need to get something against RB Leipzig – no mean feat of course – but they will be backed by 2,000 fans in the capital. The Berlin senate has chosen this clash as one of its test events as the city attempts to return to normality following a difficult 14 months. As Union close in on a European tour, a raucous home crowd may be exactly what they need to get over the line.
2 | Hansi Flick says goodbye to Bayern Munich
Saturday’s clash with Augsburg at the Allianz Arena will be Hansi Flick’s 86th and final match in charge of Bayern Munich. Even if the Bavarians were to lose, which seems unlikely given they have lost just twice in 19 games versus Die Fuggerstädter, Flick will still depart with a barely believable 80% win percentage and seven trophies.
And yet, despite the success, it has not been an easy spell for the 56-year-old. He has clashed with sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić on numerous occasions during his tenure, and he has been left disappointed at the departure of Thiago Alcantara and the impending exits of Jerome Boateng and David Alaba.
Bayern have a reputation of conducting their business astutely but they have worked their way through their share of managers this century. Only Pep Guardiola has managed more than two consecutive seasons at the club since Ottmar Hitzfeld in 2004. Salihamidžić and co hope to break that streak when Julian Nagelsmann takes over. Flick, meanwhile, will no doubt be hoping to leave his role with a dominating display.
3 | FC Köln, Werder Bremen and Arminia Bielefeld battle against relegation
After 33 matchdays, just one point separates FC Köln, Arminia Bielefeld and Werder Bremen. For one of these sides, Saturday will bring an end to their time in the Bundesliga, while another will face two fixtures against the third-placed side in the 2. Bundesliga to secure their top-flight status. Only one team will be celebrating come the end of the weekend.
As it stands, that side will be Arminia Bielefeld. They face a difficult away trip to Stuttgart, who are still in the fight for a spot in the Europa Conference League, as do Bremen against Mönchengladbach, albeit at home. Die Werderaner will be led by Thomas Schaaf following the dismissal of Florian Kohfeldt – three points would further cement his status as a club legend.
On paper, Köln face the easiest task as they host Schalke. Die Königsblauen have won just three games all season and will be playing in the second tier next term. However, they defeated high-flyers Eintracht Frankfurt in their last match and have taken the lead in each of their previous three games – Friedhelm Funkel and his players cannot afford to be complacent.
Expect plenty of twists and turns before the 90 minutes are out.
4 | One last audition for Edin Terzić?
When Edin Terzić took over from Lucien Favre, Borussia Dortmund had just been hammered 5-1 by Stuttgart and their season was on the verge of collapse. Fast-forward six months and Die Schwarzgelben have qualified for the Champions League and won the 2021 DFB Pokal, their first major trophy in four years. It has been a remarkable turnaround for which novice Terzić deserves huge credit.
It will not be enough for him to keep his position at Dortmund, but the club are eager for him to stay on as one of incoming boss Marco Rose’s assistants. The question now is whether the 38-year-old has outgrown playing second fiddle.
This summer, a number of jobs across Europe are likely to become available. Even if he wants to stay in Germany, he could have plenty of interesting offers on the table. Frankfurt are in need of a manager, as are Bremen, while Bayer Leverkusen may be tempted to consider his services.
Dortmund face the latter at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend. One last impressive performance coordinated by Terzić could convince Rudi Völler and co to make an approach.
5 | What could have been for Eintracht Frankfurt
Few would have bet on Schalke to beat Champions League chasers Frankfurt last weekend, yet that is exactly what they did with a 4-3 victory. While the victors were impressively clinical in front of goal, the Eagles crumbled under pressure, seemingly weighed down by the possibility of qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition.
Due to previous poor results, even a victory may not have been enough in the long run, and Dortmund’s 3-1 win against Mainz extinguished Frankfurt’s already faint hopes. Finishing in fifth and securing a place in the Europa League is far from a disappointment, as outgoing sporting director Fredi Bobic was at pains to express following that crushing loss, but the club’s supporters will be left contemplating what might have been.
At home against Freiburg this weekend, all Frankfurt’s players can do is attempt to end the season in style. An empty stadium will probably come as a relief to Adi Hütter upon his exit from the club – his departure announcement in April coincided with his side embarking on a run of just four points from a possible 15, and Frankfurt supporters have been quick to share their anger and frustration with him on social media recently. Although an impressive performance against Freiburg will unlikely earn him forgiveness, it may at least remind the fans of his positive contribution at the Commerzbank Arena.