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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Starke warning for relegation fodder Duisburg

DUISBURG, May 7 (Bundesliga) - Duisburg goalkeeper Tom Starke is already writing off his side's chances of avoiding relegation as they prepare to welcome German champions Bayern Munich to the MSV-Arena on Saturday.

The 27-year-old took his frustration out on his team-mates for the way they performed in a 2-0 midweek defeat to Nurnberg which left them with an uphill struggle to avoid dropping into the second division.

'To be honest, I am absolutely furious with what we did,' said the goalkeeper.

'I saw absolutely nobody fighting throughout the whole 90 minutes.

'It was a catastrophic performance and just because Nurnberg retreated after leading means in no way that we played any better.'

With two games of the season remaining, the relegation issue is the most dramatic in the Bundesliga with three of five teams set to fall through the trapdoor.

Hansa Rostock are propping up the division with 27 points, five fewer than Arminia Bielefeld in 15th place - the final safe position.

Nevertheless, their coach Frank Pagelsdorf is refusing to throw in the towel ahead of his side's clash with Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday where anything other than a win would condemn the northern Germany side to relegation.

'Until it is mathematically impossible, we will still try everything,' he said.

However, wins for Nurnberg in Berlin and Bielefeld against Dortmund would mean a win would be worthless for Rostock on Saturday.

And after beating Duisburg in midweek, Nurnberg are confident they can now complete a great escape.

'These three points were absolutely necessary,' said coach Thomas von Heesen on Wednesday.

'We now have every opportunity.'

The Bavarians have occupied one of the last three positions in the Bundesliga for over five months, but now trail Bielefeld by one point while Energie Cottbus are not safe yet either.

'We need two points from the last two games,' said Cottbus coach Bojan Prasnikar, who would prefer to get those on Saturday against Hamburg.

At the top of the table, the midweek round of matches ensured Werder Bremen and Schalke both qualify for the Champions League next season, and the race is now on to finish runners-up to Bayern and earn direct entry into the group stage.

Bremen hold a two-point advantage as they host Hannover on Saturday while Schalke entertain Eintracht Frankfurt.

Below them, four clubs are still vying for two places in the UEFA Cup with Wolfsburg the latest to throw their hats into the ring.

'We now have a final for a place in the UEFA Cup against Stuttgart on Saturday,' announced their manager Felix Magath after his side closed to within three points of fourth-placed Hamburg thanks to a 3-2 win in Frankfurt on Wednesday.

Leverkusen and Hamburg, who have each won just one of their last eight games, have tricky trips to relegation-threatened Rostock and Cottbus respectively.

Saturday's other game sees Karlsruhe host Bochum with both sides already looking forward to the summer break safe in the knowledge they will be playing Bundesliga football again next season.