Berlin — With a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals
secured, Bayern Munich will turn its attention to Cologne and the Bundesliga as
its quest for a treble in Pep Guardiola's last season continues.
Bayern leads by five points with eight games remaining, has
a home semifinal match against Werder Bremen to come in the German Cup, and
will find out its Champions League quarterfinal opponent in Friday's draw.
Just as predecessor Jupp Heynckes led Bayern to the treble
in his last season in charge, Guardiola will arguably have to do the same
before he leaves for Manchester City if he is to fulfill expectations of his
tenure in Munich.
Borussia Dortmund is the closest thing to a rival in the
Bundesliga, keeping the pressure on with the best campaign ever produced by a
second-place team in the league.
Dortmund has won 19 of its 26 games and lost only three.
Bayern has done better, winning 21 and losing just two. But still the team
"We need to win the games we have. We can't lose
any," Guardiola said before Dortmund defeated in-form Mainz last Sunday.
"I think Dortmund can win nine games in a row, so we need to make sure we
Cologne is comfortably positioned in mid-table, seemingly
safe from relegation and with European qualification probably just out of
reach. Damage-limitation will likely be the main motivation on Saturday.
"It's always a huge challenge. We'll have to try and
keep the game open for as long as possible. It's a top team, probably the best
in the world," Cologne defender Dominic Maroh said. "You have to be
careful, but we shouldn't be too awestruck."
Dortmund will hope to take advantage of any possible Bayern
slip-up when it visits relegation-troubled Augsburg on Sunday. Borussia
Moenchengladbach visits Schalke in a duel for Champions League qualification on
Friday and Eintracht Frankfurt hosts Hannover in a relegation battle on
Also read: Bayern want no repeat of Juve's Turin fightback
Here are some things to know about this weekend's matches:
SLOW BICYCLE RACE
Schalke's hopes of Champions League soccer took a blow last
weekend in the 2-0 loss at Hertha Berlin, which consolidated its surprising
hold on third place just as optimism was threatening to break out at Schalke
after two straight wins.
'Gladbach moved a point above Schalke into the last
qualification place, three points below Hertha.
Whichever side wins on Friday will be hopeful of catching
Hertha for the last automatic qualification spot. But Schalke hasn't won any of
its last four games against a higher-placed team, and 'Gladbach hasn't won any
of its last six away games.
Hertha, which has also been inconsistent of late, can
tighten its grip on third with a win at home over promoted Ingolstadt on
Mainz, Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg are also fighting for
European places with 'Gladbach still in touching distance.
Mainz, which visits relegation-threatened Werder Bremen on
Saturday, is just a point behind Schalke in the last Europa League
qualification spot, while Leverkusen is only another point further back.
Leverkusen, which ended its four-game run without a win last weekend, visits
Stuttgart on Sunday.
Wolfsburg, two points behind Leverkusen, hosts promoted
Darmstadt on Saturday, one day after it finds out its opponent for its first
ever Champions League quarterfinal match.
Hannover, one of the few consistent sides in the Bundesliga,
looks doomed at the bottom of the table, seven points behind rivals Hoffenheim
and Frankfurt and 10 points behind Bremen and safety.
Former Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf was brought in to steer
the side to safety but has watched the side slump to eight losses in nine
games. He can ill afford another one at Frankfurt in Saturday's late game.
Frankfurt, too, has had a change of coach, firing Armin Veh
and bringing in the untested Niko Kovac. Kovac's tenure got off to a bad start
with a 3-0 loss at 'Gladbach last weekend, but the team ran more (117.6
kilometers) than it had in any other league game.
Hoffenheim hopes its improvement under new coach Julian
Nagelsmann continues at Hamburger SV on Saturday.For
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