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Bundesliga battle for survival intensifies

Munich - With Greuther Fürth resigned to a fate which could be confirmed this weekend, the Bundesliga futures of four other clubs hangs in the balance going into the final five matches of the season.

Should Fürth lose out in the 256th Franconian derby with 1. FC Nuremberg on Sunday, it would take a miracle to see them survive. In reality, they have probably come to terms with the prospect of Bundesliga 2 football next term, making it more a question of who is going to be joining them in the second tier.

With FC Augsburg and 1899 Hoffenhem finally kicking into gear, Fortuna Düsseldorf have slid into the midst of the fight they themselves had predicted following their glorious return to the top flight after a 15-year absence last term. SV Werder Bremen are another club who find themselves embroiled in the relegation quagmire. Never in the 13-year reign of coach Thomas Schaaf have they picked up so few points - 32 from 29 games - and even the most optimistic of fans are beginning to sweat from the heat of the fire below.

Credit must of course go to Augsburg for closing the gap. Written off at the midway stage of the season after picking up just nine points prior to the winter break, they have already doubled that tally in 2013 thanks in no small part to South Korean duo Dong-Won Ji and Ja-Cheol Koo. Based on results this calendar year alone, Markus Weinzierl’s side would be on course for a place in the UEFA Europa League. Not only has their improved form seen move off the foot of the table, they've also hauled in Hoffenheim to move into the relegation play-off spot.

Yet Hoffenheim have also sprung into life since the appointment of Markus Gisdol, whose team have quite literally gone the extra mile in their bid to stay up. In their last two games against Fortuna and VfL Wolfsburg, 1899 have covered 127.1 kilometres and 121.8 kilometres respectively, two of their three best total distances this season.

So with Augsburg and Hoffenheim pedalling furiously and Bremen and Fortuna hurtling uncontrollably south, an intriguing final few weeks is in store at the foot of the table. 19 matches, including a head-to-head between Bremen and Hoffenheim on Matchday 32, will determine the destiny of four sides who share one ambition - to maintain their top-flight status for next season.