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03/17/2014
 
One of Europe's top leagues is providing an interesting relegation battle, throwing some of the biggest German club names into the relegation mix.

Round 25 brought a few match-ups that certainly drew the attention of Germany's top division fans, particularly in the battle for relegation. Hamburger SV (HSV), looked left for dead about a month ago and seemed like the league's worst excuse of a club to battle for relegation. All of that has changed under new trainer Mirko Slomka, and the Bundesliga dinosaurs are now looking to stave off relegation. HSV, the only club in the top flight of Germany never to be relegated, find themselves in one of their most real battles to continue their legacy of never having played in the second division in Germany. HSV defeated Nuremburg 2-1 in a battle that found HSV leapfrogging their relegation rivals. HSV now sits out of the relegation zone.

Eintracht Braunschweig earned an important point against top club Vfl Wolfsburg in a 1-1 draw. Although many see Braunschweig as one of the teams certain to drop back into the second league, the league's caboose said "not so fast" this weekend. It appears Braunschweig is heading down, but they could still take points from teams in a few interesting battles to come.

Ah, VfB Stuttgart. What a fall from stardom after winning the league title in 06/07. The Swabian side boasts some promising young German talent, such as striker Timo Werner, who just penned a new deal with the club. The club, however, doesn't seem to boast that youthful exuberance throughout. Drawing 1-1 to Werder Bremen over the weekend, Stuttgart find themselves in an uphill climb in 17th place. Points are needed badly, but the Swabians haven't performed well in the second half of the season. Having gone through a carousel of trainers, VfB are hoping Huub Stevens can be the savior. Although the controversial trainer is not well loved in Hamburg or Gelsenkirchen, he could just be the right man of discipline to save VfB. Germans often compare Stevens to Felix Magath, who just took over Fulham. We shall see if the General's services save VfB.

Finally, in what had to be the most tasty pairing on the Sunday match-up of round 25, SC Freiburg thumped Eintracht Frankfurt 1-4. Christian Streich's men will be beaming with the points, as the result pulled Eintracht Frankfurt and trainer Armin Veh back into the relegation battle. Frankfurt seemed to be somewhat distancing themselves from the bottom of the pack, but the crushing defeat has put them back in the mix.

With all those results in mind, only 8 points separate 10th place and 17th place with nine games left to play. Conceivably, nobody is really immune from the drop from 10th place downward. The next three rounds of play should provide some clarity of who is going to battle to stay in the first league. Right now, many clubs are sweating it out, hoping to not catch the relegation bug.

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03/09/2014
 

Stuttgart have signed Dutch coach Huub Stevens to save them from relegation after predecessor Thomas Schneider was sacked on Sunday following a record run of defeats.


Stevens, 60, becomes Stuttgart's third coach this season as Schneider, who had only been in charge for six months, was sacked in the wake of Saturday's 2-2 draw with Bundesliga bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig.


Stuttgart are winless in their last nine games and suffered a club record of eight consecutive defeats under the 41-year-old Schneider, who replaced Bruno Labbadia in August.


"I'm really up for this," Stevens, who was fired by Greek side PAOK SAlonika last week, told German broadcaster Sport1 with Stuttgart only out of the relegation places on goal difference.


Steven's main task is to stop Stuttgart suffering only their second relegation since 1975 and his contract runs until the end of the season.


"Huub is highly motivated and has plenty of experience in dealing with this sort of situation," said Stuttgart's director of sport Fredic Bobic.


Stuttgart is Stevens' fifth Bundesliga club, having won the 1997 UEFA Cup and the German Cup twice with Schalke 04 in two stints with the Royal Blues, who sacked him in December 2012.


He has also coached Hertha Berlin, Hamburg, whom he saved from relegation in 2007, and Cologne in the German league.


Stuttgart are up against fellow relegation candidates Werder Bremen, Hamburg, Nuremberg and Freiburg in the coming weeks with 10 matches left before the end of the season.

 
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