Dortmund, 2 other champions stuck at bottom
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The bottom of the Bundesliga table reads like an honor roll — Stuttgart, Hamburger SV, Borussia Dortmund.
Between them, the three clubs have 13 Bundesliga titles, including some of the more recent ones. Stuttgart was champion in 2007, Dortmund won the title in 2011 and 2012 and was runner-up the last two seasons.
Now all three clubs are fighting against relegation. About the only consolation for the three is that they are not far from safety. Only five points separate last-place Dortmund and 10th-place Mainz.
Here are some things to know going in the 14th Bundesliga round this weekend:
Borussia Dortmund has won only one of its last 10 matches and already has eight defeats. The last time Dortmund was bottom of the table so far into the season was in 1985-86, when it barely escaped relegation.
Coach Juergen Klopp, in his seventh season with Dortmund, was visibly depressed after last week’s 2-0 defeat in Frankfurt but has vowed to stay on, saying he has enough experience fighting relegation from his days in Mainz.
Dortmund badly needs a confidence boost but faces a tough home match on Friday against Hoffenheim, which is capable of scoring plenty of goals but also tends to concede many.
Central defender Mats Hummels could return after injury and several other players are fit again. “We have more options now and we may use them,” Klopp said.
With Bayern Munich seven points clear of Wolfsburg at the top, few people believe Bayern can be caught as it chases its third straight title.
Wolfsburg playmaker Kevin de Bruyne thinks finishing second is hard enough.
“I always want to be first but everyone knows how difficult it is to achieve that in the Bundesliga. Second place would be very good but maybe Bayern will have a weaker phase,” de Bruyne told Kicker magazine ahead of Wolfsburg’s match against Hannover.
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is one of the three candidates for FIFA’s player of the year award after helping Germany win the World Cup title. But his Bundesliga record is impressive too — in 108 matches for Bayern, he has kept a clean sheet in 60 of them, a 56-percent rate.
One player to watch out for when Bayern plays Bayer Leverkusen in Munich on Saturday is Stefan Kiessling. The Leverkusen striker has scored six goals against Neuer.
Bayern is already 10 points ahead of third-place Leverkusen. Munich is undefeated this season and in 17 consecutive Bundesliga matches going back to last season.
Huub Stevens began his second term as coach of Stuttgart with a 4-1 win in Freiburg and hopes the upswing will continue against Schalke.
Stuttgart has the worst home record with four points, Schalke has the poorest away record with three.
Stevens is best known in the Bundesliga for his stint in charge of Schalke.
Augsburg has become the surprise of the season so far and sits fourth before visiting Cologne. Augsburg has seven wins and six defeats, with no draws.
“We may have less quality but we compensate with our team spirit,” captain Paul Verhaegh said. “Our advantage is that this team has been playing together for several years. We run a lot and it’s not comfortable for our opponents to play against us.”