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Werder Bremen braced for ‘relegation final’ in Mainz

Bremen midfielder Maximilian Eggestein says they must treat their last two league games as ‘finals’ as they fight relegation

Berlin, Germany | AFP |  Struggling Bundesliga giants Werder Bremen have just two matches to avoid relegation, but can take a significant step towards survival at Mainz on Saturday.

Bayern Munich were confirmed Bundesliga champions for the eighth straight season in midweek, but the fight to stay up is still raging.

Bremen are second-bottom and in danger of losing their status as the club with the most years spent in Germany’s top flight.

They sit one point behind Fortuna Duesseldorf, who occupy the relegation play-off spot, but six behind 15th-placed Mainz after their surprise win at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Four-time champions Bremen have been in the Bundesliga every season bar one since its introduction in 1963. They were relegated in 1980, but came straight back up.

Bremen visit Mainz in one of nine games at 1330 GMT on Saturday and host Cologne on the final day of the season on June 27.

“We have two ‘finals’, which we must win to stay up,” said midfielder Maximilian Eggestein.

Werder’s American midfielder Josh Sargent said: “No one wants to let the team or the city down.”

Bottom side Paderborn have already been relegated.

Duesseldorf host Augsburg on Saturday and visit Union Berlin on the final day, while Mainz can secure safety by beating Bremen before their last match at Champions League-chasing Bayer Leverkusen.

Mainz coach Achim Beierlorzer has billed the game as a “relegation final”.

– Leipzig closing on Champions League spot –

Meanwhile, second-placed Borussia Dortmund are looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s shock defeat by Mainz at RB Leipzig, who are third but yet to secure a Champions League spot.

Leipzig striker Timo Werner, who has scored 32 goals in all competitions this season, has confirmed he is moving to Chelsea from July 1, but can play in Leipzig’s last two Bundesliga games of the campaign.

Werner scored in Leipzig’s 2-2 draw with Duesseldorf on Wednesday, but they threw away a two-goal lead and still need another win to secure Champions League qualification.

“Now we have to deliver on Saturday,” said coach Julian Nagelsmann, whose side would also leapfrog Dortmund into second with victory.

“Coming second in the league doesn’t mean anything. It’s about getting into the Champions League and we’ve got enough to do there.”

There will be no coronation for Bayern after Saturday’s final home game of the season against Freiburg.

The league said they must wait to receive the Bundesliga trophy until after their final match, next weekend at Wolfsburg, due to coronavirus restrictions.

Bayern are without the suspended Alphonso Davies, who was sent off in midweek, and Lucas Hernandez is expected to take over at left-back as the Bavarians chase a 15th straight win all competitions.

One to watch: Claudio Pizarro

The Bremen striker is 42 in October, four years younger than coach Florian Kohfeldt, but has shaken off a thigh injury and could play a role at Mainz.

As he did in Tuesday’s 1-0 home loss to Bayern, Pizarro could come off the bench and add to his 488 Bundesliga appearances, with 197 goals.

“I am proud that they call me a legend,” said Pizarro, who won the Bundesliga six times with former club Bayern and the German Cup on six occasions, five with Bayern and once, in 2008/09, with Bremen.

Pizarro also has the distinction of scoring in 21 consecutive calendar years during spells in Europe with Bremen, Chelsea, Bayern and Cologne, but is yet to find the net in 2020.

Key stats

14: Matches without a Bundesliga win for Schalke. David Wagner’s side host Wolfsburg looking for a first league victory since January.

31: League goals Robert Lewandowski has scored for Bayern Munich this term — his best-ever season. He is set to be crowned the league’s top-scorer for the fifth time.

93: Goals scored by Timo Werner in 157 games for RB Leipzig over the last four years.

Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT)

Bayern Munich v Freiburg, RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim v Union Berlin, Fortuna Dusseldorf v Augsburg, Hertha Berlin v Bayer Leverkusen, Mainz v Werder Bremen, Schalke v Wolfsburg, Cologne v Eintracht Frankfurt, Paderborn v Borussia Moenchengladbach

 

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