FC Köln will be looking to continue their push for the European places when they face Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday, with the visitors in desperate need of a win to rekindle their hopes of Bundesliga survival.
Köln's European quest has gained steam in recent weeks, with only one of their last five matches resulting in defeat.
Their last two matches, in particular, have demonstrated why Steffen Baumgart's side are firmly in the hunt for European football. They staged a spectacular fightback to come from two goals down to beat Mainz 3-2 before they swept past their rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Rhine Derby last weekend.
Die Geißböcke surged into a three-goal lead within 34 minutes, thanks to strikes from Anthony Modeste, Florian Kainz and Dejan Ljubičić. Breel Embolo did grab a late consolation for Gladbach, but that strike could do nothing to dampen the mood in the Köln camp, who enter Saturday's fixture in seventh place.
With both DFB-Pokal finalists expected to finish inside the top six, seventh position is set to become a European place, but with Union Berlin a point ahead and Hoffenheim a point behind Köln, there is likely to be a fair amount of movement in the Bundesliga table before the curtain comes down on the 2021-22 season.
As Baumgart and his squad prepare for a home meeting with a Bielefeld side fighting for their Bundesliga place, the hosts will be confident that they can obtain a positive result after losing just one of their previous five home matches.
With Köln preparing for the final four crucial matches, Baumgart will be grateful to have nearly a full squad available to him, with Sebastian Andersson the only known absentee for the hosts.
It is fair to say it has been a busy week for Bielefeld, who relieved Frank Kramer of his head coach duties following a 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich last weekend.
However, it was not just that result that culminated in Kramer's sacking, as Bielefeld are winless in their last seven matches, with six of those encounters ending in defeat.
As a result of their poor form, Kramer left the club with Die Arminen in 17th place - two points adrift of the relegation playoff spot.
The individual tasked with keeping Bielefeld in the topflight is goalkeeping coach Marco Kostmann, who has taken over on an interim basis. The new man has no time to ease himself into the role, with points needed from the off if Die Arminen are to extend their stay in the Bundesliga.
Kostmann's task is a difficult one, as he takes over a side that have conceded 17 goals in their previous seven games, while they have managed to find the net on just one occasion in those seven matches.
In their remaining four fixtures, Bielefeld will face Köln, Hertha BSC, Bochum and RB Leipzig and a win on Saturday would get their relegation fight back on track.
Jacob Barrett Laursen will miss out due a hamstring problem, while Fabian Klos is sidleined with a head injury. The visitors are also without the services of Cedric Brunner, who is unavailable for the second game in a row.
|2||B. Schmitz ↪74|
|4||T. Hübers ⚽|
|14||J. Hector (C) ↪29|
|7||D. Ljubicic ↪74|
|13||M. Uth ⚽ ↪88|
|11||F. Kainz ↪74|
|27||A. Modeste ⚽|
|19||K. Ehizibue ↩74|
|23||J. Horn ↩29|
|21||L. Schaub ↩74|
|29||J. Thielmann ↩74 ⚽|
|47||M. Olesen ↩88|
|1||S. Ortega Moreno|
|8||A. Schöpf ↪85|
|39||S. Vasiliadis ↪77|
|19||M. Prietl (C)|
|23||J. Serra ↪77|
|21||R. Hack ↩77|
|15||N. De Medina|
|7||G. Castro ↩85|
|17||B. İnce ↩77|