It’s definitely only a matter of time for Bayern Munich, as Die Roten’s march to the Bundesliga title has been only a matter of ‘when’ than ‘if’.
They could have sealed the league before the International break, but their loss at Leipzig, coupled with second-placed Schalke winning at Wolfsburg, means they are two wins away from a sixth successive league triumph, or one win and a failure to win for Schalke.
Bayern do however have to win first, and their next opponents, Borussia Dortmund have aspirations of their own.
It’s little gain saying that Dortmund have improved since Peter Stoger took over from Peter Bosz last year, unbeaten in the league since then, but it’s also not news to point out that there have been murmurs of dissatisfaction over the playing style, and they being knocked out of the Europa League by Salzburg. It seems unlikely that Stoger will stay beyond the season’s end, but there’d be no better way for him to be remembered, if his reign does turn out to be short, than with a win over Bayern Munich this weekend.
Dortmund are in third place, a point behind Schalke, and four ahead of fifth-placed Leverkusen, and so their need for three points is great, with Champions League football for next season a nigh-unmissable target.
It however goes beyond the points on Saturday; it’s also about triumphing in Der Klassiker, German football’s most-watched league game, securing bragging rights, and perhaps even more importantly, delaying Bayern Munich’s coronation further.
There is a question of what kind of side Bayern Munich would set up to play Die Schwarzgelben, with a Champions League quarter-final first leg with Sevilla in mind. That perhaps might give Dortmund a bigger chance, playing a distracted, if not weakened Bavarian side, a rare opportunity that should hardly be passed on. The outcome of this game may actually have little consequence in the end, Bayern are certainly going to win the title, while Dortmund are still favourites for at least third place no matter what. But for the visitors, it’s all about delay, no matter how inevitable. A case of postponing judgment; a case of ‘it won’t happen with us’.
Elsewhere, second-placed Schalke are still primed to delay Bayern’s coronation, as they host Freiburg, knowing a win will push the leaders’ triumph at least a week back. More importantly, though, a win here will keep their stronghold on second spot. Hamburg, now bottom of the table, travel to high-flying Stuttgart, who have done well to eradicate any prospect of relegation.
Koln travel to Hoffenheim, as Effzeh have now moved off the foot of the table and are only five points away from safety. Hertha Berlin host troubled Wolfsburg, the latest game for Frankfurt and their Champions League hopes is a trip to Werder Bremen, while Mainz welcome Borussia Monchengladbach to the Coface Arena, and Hannover and Leipzig square off.
Bayern Munich v Dortmund
Hertha BSC v Wolfsburg
Hoffenheim v Koln
Stuttgart v Hamburg
Mainz v Monchengladbach
Hannover v RB Leipzig
Leverkusen v Augsburg
Schalke v Freiburg
Werder Bremen v Frankfurt