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Eintracht host Schalke as European race heats up

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Eintracht Frankfurt have achieved their season aim of staying clear of the relegation zone but the promoted side are desperate to get their push for Champions League football back on track after a recent run of poor form.

Eintracht will be eager to recover quickly from last week's defeat to Augsburg and a home victory over fourth-placed Schalke 04 on Saturday would take them within a point of their opponents in the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Up until the winter break, Eintracht were the surprise team of the season, doggedly staying in touch with leaders Bayern Munich until a run of three wins in their last 12 games saw them slip off the pace at the top of the standings.

"There is no need to keep talking about Europe," coach Armin Veh fumed after their defeat to relegation-threatened Augsburg on Sunday.

"We played exactly the way we should not play against a team fighting to stay up. What we have to learn is to keep fighting, even if things do not always go according to plan."

With only four points separating Eintracht (42) and Schalke (46), a win would put them back in contention for the Champions League with four games remaining.

"We will do everything we can to win against Schalke," defender Sebastian Jung said. "If we do that then the cards will have been shuffled again."

HUNTELAAR OUT

Veh could have leading striker Alexander Meier available after an injury sustained last week turned out to be less serious than originally thought.

Schalke, on an opposite path to their opponents after slumping late last year before recovering over the past few months, will hope to finish off their roller-coaster season with another Champions League spot.

Midfielder Jermaine Jones, who was injured on international duty with the United States last month, has returned to training this week and could be fit for the game.

For midfielder Jefferson Farfan, however, the match is likely to come too soon after he missed last week's 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen with muscle problems and did not train on Wednesday either.

Striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who returned to training this week following a ligament tear, will definitely miss out as he battles to regain full fitness.

Bayern, who have already secured their 23rd Bundesliga title, travel to Hanover 96 with coach Jupp Heynckes expected to rest key players ahead of next week's Champions League clash against Barcelona.

Bayern are chasing a treble of titles after also qualifying for the German Cup final with a 6-1 demolition of VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday.

Fellow Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund, 20 points behind in second place, host Mainz 05, ahead of their own European encounter with Real Madrid on Wednesday.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130418/eintracht-host-schalke-european-race-heats