sport

Hyypia eyes Leverkusen form

Bayer Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia has called on his side to stand up and be counted ahead of their trip to Hannover this weekend.

After three straight Bundesliga defeats, elimination from the DFB-Pokal and an almost certain exit from the Champions League after a heavy defeat at home to Paris Saint-Germain, the former Liverpool defender admits the situation is perilous.

Nevertheless, he is refusing to throw in the towel and has called on his team to show their true faces.

"This is a good challenge for us to show we are strong," Hyypia said.

At the same time, Hyypia has welcomed his side's mini-crisis as an opportunity to improve individually and as a team.

"My coaching career is not very long and this is the first time that I'm stuck in such a situation," said the Finnish coach.

"Of course I've asked many people for advice as to what I can do. I want to develop myself and without this situation that development would progress slower."

Leverkusen travel to Hannover with a two-point advantage over fourth-placed Schalke, who occupy the final qualifying berth for the Champions League next season.

Wolfsburg are just two points behind the top four, although they are at home to Bayern Munich on Saturday and, in view of the Bavarians' 48-game unbeaten record in the Bundesliga, it is unlikely they will be able to make up any ground.

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund will be hoping they can at least maintain their two-point cushion over Hyypia's men when they travel to Freiburg on Sunday.

That will not be such an easy trip for Jurgen Klopp's men, though, as Freiburg need points to move out of the bottom two.

Baden-Wurttemberg rivals Stuttgart face a make-or-break clash with Eintracht Braunschweig, at least for their under-fire coach Thomas Schneider, who is clinging on to his job after a run of eight straight defeats.

Hamburg, who are on 19 points along with Freiburg and Stuttgart, host Eintracht Frankfurt, who pulled six points clear of the bottom three last weekend with victory over Stuttgart.

Elsewhere, Borussia Monchengladbach will be looking for their first win of 2014 when they host Augsburg, while Nurnberg welcome Werder Bremen to the Frankenstadion with both sides still in need of points in their respective relegation battles.

Finally, Europa League qualification is on the agenda when high-flying Mainz host Hertha Berlin on Sunday.