Bayern poised for 25th title

2015-04-24 14:57
Pep Guardiola (Supplied)

Berlin - Treble-chasing Bayern Munich could claim their first silverware of the season this weekend with the Bavarian giants poised to become German champions for the 25th time.

With five games left, Bayern are 12 points clear before they entertain Hertha Berlin at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, with nearest rivals Wolfsburg not playing until Sunday, when they face a stiff test at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Pep Guardiola's side therefore need only better Wolfsburg's result to officially wrap up yet another title.

However, even if Wolfsburg win, their hugely inferior goal difference would mean the title race is effectively over anyway.

Bayern are buzzing from their stunning 6-1 drubbing of Porto in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final, second leg which took them through to the last four and kept alive their hopes of repeating their 2013 treble, when they won the domestic double and lifted the European Cup.

However, their current punishing schedule of a game every three or four days shows no sign of relenting as they host Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup semi-final next Tuesday in a repeat of the 2014 final, which Bayern won 2-0 after extra-time.

Injuries continue to leave Guardiola with a thin squad at his disposal, with Franck Ribery, Mehdi Benatia and David Alaba still on the sidelines and Holger Badstuber having been ruled out for the rest of the season with a thigh tear.

However, Spain midfielder Javi Martinez this week returned to training for the first time since tearing the cruciate ligament in his left knee last August, although it is doubtful he will play again this season.

And there is hope that leading scorer Arjen Robben will return either this weekend or against Dortmund next Tuesday after six weeks out with an abdominal injury.

"Arjen is well on his way. We can hope he'll return soon," said chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who admitted that he would rather not wrap up the league title because of a slip-up from one of Bayern's rivals.

"It's more satisfying to leave the pitch as confirmed champions," he said before speaking with confidence about Bayern's prospects on all fronts in the run-in.

"We have difficult matches coming up. We're in good shape right now. We want to take everything that's possible."

With fourth-placed Gladbach battling Bayer Leverkusen for Germany's third automatic Champions League berth, Wolfsburg are set to name a full-strength side for Sunday's showdown at Borussia Park.

Indeed, both Germany winger Andre Schuerrle and their star Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne were left out of the squad for Thursday's Europa League quarter-final second leg at Napoli to keep them fresh for the Bundesliga.

Meanwhile, Leverkusen go to near neighbours Cologne chasing an eighth successive win but without Gonzalo Castro, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Read more on:    bayern munich  |  bundesliga  |  soccer

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