Bayern Munich set to clinch title in Wolfsburg deja vu (Preview German League)

May 2nd, 2008 - 12:25 pm ICT by admin  

Hamburg, May 2 (DPA) Bayern Munich face a double deja vu when they aim to wrap up their 21st German football title - and with it a seventh domestic double - at VfL Wolfsburg Sunday. Munich have assured themselves of the Bundesliga crown in Wolfsburg before, in 2003 with a 2-0 victory.

The Bavarian top side won the double that year as well, and so did they in 2005 and 2006 under coach Felix Magath, who was then sacked in Munich in early 2007 and is now the Wolfsburg helmsman.

Munich, who won the German Cup two weeks ago, have to pick themselves up from a crushing 0-4 defeat at Zenit St. Petersburg Thursday that ended their hopes of a trophy treble of cup, league and UEFA Cup.

But the Bundesliga title is all but theirs as they take a 12-point lead over Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 into the final four rounds.

They can even be assured of the title Saturday if Bremen fail to beat Energie Cottbus and Schalke don’t win against Hanover 96.

After investing close to 80 million euros ($124 million) ahead of the season into the likes of French star Franck Ribery and Italy striker Luca Toni, Munich have led the Bundesliga from the start and survived some sluggish periods because their rivals were not convincing either.

“Luca and Franck were instant hits and gave the team a lot of quality,” said Munich general manager Uli Hoeness after his side all but sealed the title last weekend with an emphatic 4-1 over holders VfB Stuttgart.

Munich refrained from any celebrations after the Stuttgart game as the team turned its attention to their UEFA Cup semi-final return leg at Zenit St. Petersburg that was scheduled for Thursday night.

Hoeness said he hoped that the title party will take place Sunday, given Munich’s superb record against Wolfsburg with 16 wins, three draws and just two defeats.

But Magath hopes for an upset against his former club. Wolfsburg are the third best team after the winter break and are still in the hunt for a UEFA Cup berth in seventh place.

“We earned a point in Leverkusen and now want more success in the form of three points against Munich,” said Magath.

While Munich’s title is a mere formality, and Bremen and Schalke also appear to have the other Champions League berths secure (second place earns direct entry and third place a berth in qualifying), the race for the other European berths remains open.

Leverkusen, SV Hamburg and VfB Stuttgart are locked on 48 points placed fourth to sixth, with Wolfsburg on 44 points. Fourth and fifth place are good for a UEFA Cup berth.

Leverkusen are at bottom side MSV Duisburg (Sunday), Hamburg at second-from-bottom Hansa Rostock and Stuttgart host mid-table Eintracht Frankfurt (both Saturday).

Hamburg were Munich’s biggest rivals for a long part of the season, but are now in danger of missing a UEFA Cup berth after failing to win in their last six games and not scoring in their last four.

Duisburg (26) points and Rostock (27) badly need the points in order to stay in the top flight. Nuremberg (27) are the other drop zone club with Arminia Bielefeld (29) and Cottbus (32) also not safe.

Nuremberg visit Borussia Dortmund Friday and Bielefeld host VfL Bochum Saturday. The other game Saturday is Hertha Berlin vs. SC Karlsruhe.

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