Africans in the Bundesliga: What's at stake?
With three Bundesliga games to play, KweséESPN run down the key issues still to be decided in the German top flight.
RasenBallsport Leipzig are the great success story of the Bundesliga -- and arguably European football -- this season after taking the German top flight by storm after last season's promotion. They may have fallen short in the title race, where they trail already crowned champions Bayern Munich by 10 points with three games to play, but they've capped off a truly remarkably campaign by securing Champions League qualification after amassing 63 points from 31 matches. Guinea midfielder Naby Keita has been one of the key figures in RB Leipzig's memorable campaign, belying his role as a deep-lying midfielder to make decisive contributions in the final third, registering eight goals and seven assists so far this season. His defensive skills have also caught the eye -- he's averaged 2.3 completed tackles and 2.5 interceptions per match this term -- and prompted reported interest from Liverpool among others. While Leipzig have guaranteed a spot in next year's UCL, they will be desperate to secure a top-three finish and a spot in the group stage, leaving either Hoffenheim or Borussia Dortmund to face the ominous prospect of a playoff. No one can fault BVB's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for his remarkable form in front of goal this season -- the Gabon hitman currently sits second in the top scorer charts after bagging 27 in 29 outings -- yet Dortmund's sluggish start to the season has left them with a fight on their hands to finish in the top three. They currently sit in fourth, one point off third-placed Hoffenheim, with the two set to meet at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday. The battle for the two Europa League qualifying spots has the potential to go right to the wire, with seven teams right down to 11th-placed Eintracht Frankfurt all within five points of each other with nine points still up for grabs. Salomon Kalou's Hertha Berlin are in fifth and in pole position to claim one of the two berths, yet their form can't match that of their rivals, and they've lost four of their last six...including their last two! Werder Bremen's Lamine Sane (Senegal) and Ibrahima Traore of Guinea and Borussia Monchengladbach will both fancy their chances of securing a top six finish, while Schalke's African duo of Nabil Bentaleb and Benjamin Stambouli sit in 10th and are still firmly in the running. It looks inevitable that Darmstadt, who boast Wilson Kamavuaka, will be relegated after losing their last three to drop to bottom spot on 24 points. Their fate could be sealed at the champions on Saturday. By contrast, Ingolstadt, in 17th on 29 points, are the form team in the bottom half, and defensive duo Marcel Tisserand and Marvin Matip have momentum on their side as they look to beat the drop. Above them, Hamburg currently sit in the relegation play-off spot on 33 points, although they are within three points of the quartet of sides above them. In 14th on 33 points, Mainz -- with their African duo of Leon Balogun and new Ivory Coast international Jean-Philippe Gbamin -- will find themselves in deeper trouble if they lose at HSV on Sunday.
Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.