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Heads roll as teams battle relegation

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Heads roll as teams battle relegation
Hertha Berlin ex-coach Jos Luhukay. Photo: DPA
08:16 CET+01:00
Hertha Berlin sacked their coach as they struggle to climb out of the bottom while the man behind this year's biggest disaster has ruled out resigning as his organisation stands behind him.

Jos Luhukay became the fifth coach to be sacked in the Bundesliga this season after he was dismissed by Hertha Berlin, the club confirmed on Thursday.

The 51-year-old was shown the door after Hertha's 1-0 defeat at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday left them second from bottom of the German league.

It was their third straight defeat and Hertha are bidding to avoid their third relegation from Germany's top flight since 2010.

Wednesday night also Borussia Dortmund keep their spot at the very bottom of the table after a 0-1 defeat at the hands of FC Augsburg, despite the latter playing the final 20 minutes with a 10 man side. 

It was the former Champions League finalists 11th defeat of the season as they face striking midnight this year.

And while Hertha's coach gets the chop, Borussia's Jürgen Klopp has ruled out resigning as the team faces its first relegation since 1972.

In the Bundesliga, the bottom three teams are demoted to the second league while the top teams of the second league have the opportunity to move up into the top tier level of play. 

The 2013 Champions League finalists were jeered by their own fans after the final whistle, but Klopp says he has no thoughts of walking away with his contract running until June 2018.

"I can rule out resigning," insisted the 47-year-old who has been in his job since 2008.

"After only two games this year, the tank isn't completely empty.

"Resignation wasn't on my mind on Wednesday, so accordingly it's not an issue for me."

Klopp has been given a job guarantee by Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke on the back of four successful years which saw Dortmund win the title in 2011 and 2012 and come second in the following two seasons.

They are also in the Champions League last-16 and have thir first le clash at Italian league leaders Juventus coming up as they try to get off the bottom of the Bundesliga.

Their next chance to claim some badly needed points comes at fellow strugglers Freiburg on Saturday.

Klopp revealed Dortmund will be playing without Kevin Grosskreutz for six weeks as the Germany midfielder has torn a thigh muscle and joins Ilkay Gundogan, Erik Durm and Lukasz Piszczek on the injury list.

Battle to keep the top spot

Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola is showing signs of feeling the pressure as Bundesliga leaders  hunt their first win of the year at strugglers VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.

Bayern have failed to impress so far in 2015 in their two matches since returning from the Bundesliga's winter break with an 11-point lead.

Their shock 4-1 thrashing at second-placed Wolfsburg last Friday was followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Schalke on Tuesday after playing for 70 minutes with ten men.

The usually calm and composed Bayern coach sprinted 45 metres to remonstrate with the assistant referee after a Robert Lewandowski goal was disallowed in the 66th minute against Schalke.

"It was an emotional thing to do. I just spoke to him. It was very, very nice," said Guardiola tongue-in-cheek after the heated confrontation. But despite his brush-off remark, Guardiola needs an impressive display from Bayern to sooth any jarred nerves after the Wolfsburg defeat.

Having steamrollered their domestic rivals before Christmas, Bayern were rattled in Wolfsburg and allowed Schalke to equalise, albeit with a numerical disadvantage following Jerome Boateng's dismissal.

The Germany defender is banned for the next three games and misses the Stuttgart trip, plus home matches against Hamburg and away to Paderborn.

Also to look out for in the season's 20th day of play is national team player Andre Schürrle making his debut with VfL Wolfsburg against Hoffenheim after the winger was traded from Chelsea, ending his 19-month-long stay in London. Wolfsburg are homing the new headliner wil be the extra kick they need to claim the top spot from Bayern. 

Roberto di Matteo's Schalke 04, who are sixth, have the chance to climb further up the table when they host third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach. 

"They are a direct competitor for a Champions League place and if we play as well as we did at Bayern, we will make Friday count," said Schalke captain Benedikt Höwedes.

Sabine Devins/DPA

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