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Bayern’s treble quest stays on course, next stop Cologne

17 March 2016, 21:37

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 cannot relax.

"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 win."

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 Saturday.

Also read: Bayern want no repeat of Juve's Turin fightback

Here are some things to know about this weekend's matches:


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 Saturday.


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.

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- AP


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