The champagne is on ice and the league title within their grasp, but Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insists his side are battling fatigue despite their 10 point lead.
Having already lifted the German League Cup and German Cup titles this season, Bayern are hoping to make a clean sweep of Germany’s domestic titles and are set to capture the league long before the season ends on May 17.
Now only a disaster can stop them being crowned German champions for the 21st time, but tomorrow’s opponents VfB Stuttgart are one of only two teams to have beaten them in the league this season. But with their UEFA Cup campaign still yet to be concluded, Rummenigge says the competition’s extra games are taking their toll on his side.
“The only worry I have is the fact we’ve played twice a week for the last three months,” Rummenigge said. “We looked a little heavy-legged last Saturday against Dortmund, especially in the second half, although that was to be expected. On the other hand, success boosts morale. The players want to win three trophies. The league is the most honest of all titles. Across 34 games in the league, the best team comes out on top. And if we occupy top spot from start to finish, it would be fair to say no-one deserves it more than Bayern Munich.”
But Stuttgart will not be coming to the Allianz Arena to make up the numbers — they are fifth, which guarantees them a UEFA Cup place, but they are just three points from a Champions League berth.
Bayern are set to be without captain Oliver Kahn who injured his thigh in Thursday night’s UEFA Cup semi-final first leg 1-1 draw with Zenit St. Petersburg, while Miroslav Klose broke his nose and is also doubtful.
Stuttgart welcome back striker Mario Gomez after three weeks off with a leg injury, but captain Fernando Meira (shoulder) and midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger (knee) will both be missing in Munich.
Likewise Hamburg, third in the league, and Schalke 04, fourth, are both in need of points to secure their place in Europe when they meet at Hamburg’s HSH Nordbank Arena. The Royal Blues will be looking to bounce back after parting company with coach Mirko Slomka last week.
Second-placed Werder Bremen are the only side with a chance of catching Bayern and they are at mid-table Karlsruhe.
At the other end of the table, second from bottom Nuremberg are desperate for points against guests Arminia Bielefeld, who are just above the relegation zone, but just four points separate the bottom five clubs.
Two of those five in danger of dropping to the second division, Energie Cottbus and Hansa Rostock, battle it out today. Tomorrow sixth-placed Bayer Leverkusen take on VfL Wolfsburg desperate for points and a spot in the top five which would put them in Europe.