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May 27, 2013

Kaiserslautern eye play-off comeback

Kaiserslautern hope that their imposing Fritz-Walter-Stadion can help them overturn their two-goal deficit against Hoffenheim in Monday's second leg of their Bundesliga promotion/relegation play-off.

Hoffenheim won Thursday's first leg at their Rhein-Neckar Arena 3-1, but they must contend with Kaiserslautern's 'Betzenberg' crowd as they aim to complete their bid to avoid dropping out of the top flight.

One of Germany's most dreaded grounds for away teams in Germany, the 50,000-capacity stadium has been the home to many incredible comebacks, including answering a 3-1 defeat at the Bernabeu with a 5-0 victory against Real Madrid in 1982 and coming from 4-1 down against Bayern Munich after 58 minutes to win 7-4 in a Bundesliga clash in 1973.

"This stadium is the only one I really fear," Bayern Munich legend Gerd Muller once said, while in April 1999 Pep Guardiola had warned his then Barcelona team-mates that a 4-0 lead after the first leg in their Champions League clash against Bayern Munich may not enough.

"If you humiliate Germans like this, they cannot be stopped – they are capable of running us down. I know that. I have been to Kaiserslautern," Guaridola said later, when he was Barcelona coach.

Kaiserslautern, German champions in 1997-98, have not given up on returning to the Bundesliga only one year after getting relegated into the second tier. They hope 18-goal man Mo Idrissou will add a couple to this season's tally at the most crucial time.

"We want to return to Bundesliga," Idrissou said, who could then look back on winning promotion into Germany's top tier with four different teams, having already gone up with Duisburg, Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt in his career.

Hoffenheim, meanwhile, have no plans to give up their lead and hope to stay in Bundesliga for a sixth consecutive year. Hoffenheim had come back from the dead twice during the final three match days of Bundesliga when they turned around their away games against Werder Bremen [a 2-2 draw] and Borussia Dortmund [a 2-1 win].

"We have managed two extreme situations against Bremen and Dortmund, and thus are all set for Kaiserslautern," sporting director Alexander Rosen said.

Spurs goalkeeper Heuerlho Gomes, who spent the second half of the season on loan at Hoffenheim but has been ruled out with a broken hand since April, said: "This clubs deserves to continue to play Bundesliga football."

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