Eintracht Frankfurt - 1. FC Nürnberg Preview: Franks fight Frankfurt for Bundesliga berth

Who will come out on top in the first leg?

Eintracht Frankfurt - 1. FC Nürnberg Preview: Franks fight Frankfurt for Bundesliga berth
Image credit: kicker - Getty Images

For the first time in three years, a relegation play-off involving Germany's top two tiers will not involve Hamburger SV.

Instead it will be 1. FC Nürnberg gunning for Eintracht Frankfurt, in a bid to preserve their 100% record in the fixture. 

However, Bundesliga clubs have prevailed in five of the last six play-off tussles; one will give way over the next few days.

Frankfurt failings

Frankfurt will be desperate to avenge their dramatic - and controversial - defeat to Werder Bremen last weekend. Papy Djilobodji's 88th-minute winner secured his side's safety, although it meant that the Eagles slipped into 16th and their current situation. The Hesse outfit were celebrating promotion back to the top tier this time four years ago, and wll be desperate to ensure they don't drop back into the 2. Bundesliga on Monday evening.

It was a poor season overall, that only took a positive turn when Stefan Aigner's winning goals against SV Darmstadt 98 and Borussia Dortmund meant that they survived the initial drop. However, that defeat to Bremen will have dealt a huge blow to Niko Kovac's side and their confidence. That will need to be put out of their minds, however hard that may be, and get back on track. Arguably, they are the underdogs going into this game.

New look Nürnberg

The reason that they could be looked upon as the outsiders in this clash, is because of Nürnberg's remarkable season. Despite a rough start and a patchy end, there were few teams that played as well as the Franconians during the middle part of the campaign. They went 18 games unbeaten to propel themselves to within touching distance of the top two but ultimately failed to take advantage of RB Leipzig's slip-ups.

Even with that disappointment, they ended the season on a high with two wins. With the likes of Guido Burgstaller, Niclas Füllkrug and Kevin Möhwald in the side, there is plenty of attacking talent that will worry the Frankfurt back-line. Alex Meier's height also won't be a concern, as their back-line is strong in the air. The match-up should be a tight, tense and interesting one; a single goal could decide the tie.

Can Kovac keep Frankfurt erstklassig? | Image source: kicker
Can Kovac keep Frankfurt erstklassig? | Image source: kicker

Team news

Szabolcs Huszti returns from suspension for Kovac's side, in what will be a massive boost to their chances. There were no new or fresh injury concerns from the defeat to Bremen, until the late news that a doping test revealed Marco Russ has a tumour. The captain said he wants to play, but it is not yet clear what that situation is. The improving fitness of Alexander Meier could see the sizeable striker return in what is a must-win game.

Nürnberg will be without long-term absentee Patrick Erras, who is recovering from anterior cruciate ligament troubles. Zoltan Stieber is unavailable with injury, but Tim Leibold is back from injury. If Aigner takes his place on the right wing, as expected, then both Leibold and Laszlo Sepsi should provide adequate cover.

Predicted line-ups

Eintracht Frankfurt: (4-2-3-1) Hradecky; Regäsel, Abraham, Russ, Oczipka; Hasebe, Stendera; Aigner, Huszti, Ben-Hatira; Meier.

1. FC Nürnberg: (4-4-2) Schäfer; Brecko, Hovland, Bulthuis, Sepsi; Burgstaller, Petrak, Möhwald, Leibold; Füllkrug, Blum.