Frauen-Bundesliga - Matchday 17 Preview: Battle at the bottom heats up with Rhine derby

It's the business end of the Frauen-Bundesliga, with the run-in looking as exciting as ever.

Frauen-Bundesliga - Matchday 17 Preview: Battle at the bottom heats up with Rhine derby
Image credit: VAVEL (Jonny Walsh)

With just six games remaining in the Frauen-Bundesliga season, the 2015-16 campaign is drawing to a close.

Bayern Munich look almost certain to retain their title, while 1. FC Köln could be in for an immediate return to the second tier.

Apart from that, however, the final Champions League and relegation spot are up for grabs and this weekend will help decide who ends up there come May.

Bayern face Freiburg as they bid to go a step closer to retaining title

After a run of contract extensions in the past week, SC Freiburg are keen to get back to winning ways against the reigning champions. Lena Petermann, Cinzia Zehnder, Anja-Maike Hegenauer and Sarah Puntigam all committed their immediate future to the club, in what is a strong sign that the Schwarzwald side want to keep their best players this year. Defeat to Bremen meant that they slipped back in the race for fourth, but a win here would put the pressure back on Sand.

Bayern continued to bumble along towards a second successive title with a comfortable win over Jena. Vivianne Mediema found form by scoring a hat-trick in the 5-1 demolition, which now sees the Bavarians 12 points ahead of Wolfsburg with 18 left to play for. They're targeting a fully unbeaten season, as well as continuing on from the last term. A win in their next two games and any dropped points from the Wolves would see them crowned winners once more.

Frankfurt hope to bounce back against Bremen

In their two biggest games of the season thus far, it was a mixed week for Matt Ross' 1. FFC Frankfurt. He suffered just his second defeat in charge against VfL Wolfsburg, as they took charge of the race for second place. With the sides separated by just a single point, there is still every possibility that the sides could continue to exchange positions between now and the end of the year.

There was better news in the tie of the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finals, as Dzsenifer Marozsán's penalty secured an important advantage against FC Rosengard. It did come at a cost, however, as she picked up a booking that would rule her out of the second leg. That in mind, one of the league's best players will be out to give her all this weekend and secure a vital win, as well as adding to her eight goals in nine league games.

​As for Bremen, they managed to grab an invaluable three points last weekend with a a shock win over Freiburg. Betsy Hassett's late winner has given the newly-promoted side renewed hope of beating the drop, especially after Leverkusen's drubbing at Potsdam swung goal difference in their favour. This will be a much more difficult test, though, but taking anything from this game would give them a real confidence boost.

Sand's super season could continue with Wolfsburg win

Once again, the big clash at the top end of the table sees SC Sand welcome Wolfsburg to Willstätt. This pits German giants against the unlikely success story of the season, and Sand have shown they aren't afraid of anyone. Jovana Damnjanović and Nina Burger will grab headlines with their goals, but an incredible team performance sees them sit just four points behind the Wolves coming into the run in.

Ralf Kellermann's side are hitting form at just the right time. They may be out of the title race but a comprehensive win over ACF Brescia in the Champions League, and a DFB-Pokal semi-final to look forward to, means that they are still fighting for a cup double. Caroline Graham Hansen has been the catalyst behind the recent run, with the Norwegian sensation putting in a string of unstoppable performances; if she continues in the same vein on Sunday, Wolfsburg should claim three points.

Wolfsburg won in last weekend's crunch clash against 1. FFC Frankfurt. | Source: DFB.de
Wolfsburg won in last weekend's crunch clash against 1. FFC Frankfurt. | Source: DFB.de

Rhine derby defeat may end Köln's survival chances

Whenever 1. FC Köln take on Bayer Leverkusen, it's always a special meeting. Given that both these sides are embroiled in a relegation and a Leverkusen win may end the Billy Goats' chances of survival, this is the biggest game for both in recent years. A huge defeat for Die Werkself at the hands of Postdam have done their goal difference no favours, and a Werder win against Freiburg only compounded their misery.

Köln were also soundly beaten at the weekend by Sand, in what is quickly becoming a win or bust situation. The worst attacking and defensive records in the season see them sit bottom with just six points all season, and nine behind Leverkusen. A victory would give themselves and Bremen some hope, although defeat would leave Köln 12 points adrift with just 15 to play for. It may not be the most glamorous game this weekend, but it could be the most important.

Essen and Potsdam do battle in mid-table clash

With four goals being scored in four of SGS Essen's last five games, and at least six in two of Turbine Potsdam's last three, it should be an interesting afternoon in Westfalen. Neither team has much to play for at this stage, but Christine Hartmann will be keen to continue her scoring season and try to close the gap on Germany international Svenja Huth. The latter is equally desperate to find the back of the net again after her hat-trick at Leverkusen last week, which brought her level with Mandy Ilsacker (11).

Poor form and constant injuries have seen Potsdam slip into the unfamiliar position of eighth, but a strong end to the season could see them shoot up the pack and push Sand for fourth. Essen have also been a real mixed bag this term. From beating Frankfurt and narrowly losing out to Bayern on two occasions, they've also been dealt their fair share of beatings. The first meeting between these two ended nil-nil but it doesn't seem like this game will follow suit.

Jena hoping to get back on track against Hoffenheim

After going on an impressive run of three wins in a row, USV Jena have been brought back to earth with a bump in their last two outings. Nine goals conceded and just two scored makes for worrying reading, despite that previous spurt seeing them clear of relegation. Werder Bremen's shock win last weekend may spur them on to secure victory this weekend, Amber Hearn and Iva Landeka will be hoping to remove any relegation fears as soon as possible.

As for Hoffenheim, a convincing 4-0 victory against Essen brought them back to winning ways after three successive defeats. Key players Martin Moser and Nicole Billa both got on the scoresheet last weekend to take their tally to six for the season. In what has been a topsy-turvy season for the Sinsheim side, they'll be hoping for a strong run to end the year. A top half finish should be the target for them but a finish within the top four isn't out of the realms of possibility if Sand slip up.