REUTERS - Millions of euros are at stake when Borussia Dortmund host Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday as both teams battle for the greater share of Champions League riches that come with a top-three finish.
Third place translates to more than 12 million euros in guaranteed revenue from participation in the Champions League group stage, compared to fourth place, which offers three million euros for its berth in the qualifying rounds.
Bayern Munich have already secured the title and RB Leipzig are comfortably in second place on 63 points.
Hoffenheim sit third on 58 with Dortmund a further point adrift with three matches remaining and the final standings likely to be determined by the outcome of their match.
Apart from the revenue boost, a top-three finish also means a longer off-season for players, instead of needing to be in peak shape by August for the Champions League qualifiers.
“We have the form, the self-confidence and mentality to get a home win at this stage,” Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said. “Our performances, the intensity is top. We will be prepared.”
Dortmund have had a roller coaster of a season with an erratic domestic campaign ruining their hopes of playing a major role in the title race.
However, they enjoyed a successful Champions League run before their quarter-final elimination to Monaco, following a bomb attack on the team bus that injured defender Marc Bartra and severely affected their performances over the tie.
They did recover to eliminate holders Bayern Munich late last month to reach the German Cup final and still have a shot at some silverware this season.
“Now we need some time to catch our breath,” Tuchel said. “It was a very busy month on all levels and with some bizarre stories as well.”
“But I have to give my team a big compliment because it is unbelievable the level of intensity they have shown throughout this period.”
Hoffenheim are comfortable in their role as underdogs with major shareholder Dietmar Hopp claiming third place “would be asking a bit too much from the gods of football”.
“It is more likely that we will finish in fourth place and then will have to go the Champions League qualifications,” said billionaire Hopp, who funded the club’s rise through the amateur leagues all the way to the Bundesliga in 2008.
Hoffenheim have been more consistent than Dortmund, though, having lost half as many games as the Ruhr valley club. They have also won five of their last seven league matches to earn a deserved shot at the Champions League pot of gold.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John O'Brien