Bayern see chance to go top in title-race thriller

May 11th, 2009 - 6:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Bayern Munich Hamburg, May 11 (DPA) Bayern Munich will be aiming to go top of the Bundesliga for the first time this season when the title race in German football goes into the final straight this week.
Bayern drew level on points with leaders Wolfsburg Saturday, and take on Bayer Leverkusen at home Tuesday hoping Wolfsburg will slip against Borussia Dortmund who have won their last seven games.

Meanwhile third-placed Hertha Berlin - a point behind - travel to Cologne Tuesday as they seek a first German league title since 1931.

Confidence is also high at VfB Stuttgart - a further point behind - following a 4-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg and ahead of a tricky visit to Schalke 04 Wednesday.

The title race is effectively a four-team affair after SV Hamburg’s 2-0 defeat at Werder Bremen Sunday, but with only two points separating the quartet it is the tightest for some time.

“I don’t think the Bundesliga title race has ever been this close,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after Bayern defeated Energie Cottbus 3-1 away Saturday.

Bayern have won both their matches since Jupp Heynckes replaced the sacked Juergen Klinsmann and now face visiting midtable Leverkusen before a trip to Hoffenheim on Saturday and a final home

match against Stuttgart the following week.

Rummenigge said it was important the players “take each game as it comes” as Bayern seek to defend their title, or at least make sure of finishing second to qualify for the Champions League.

“We’d be well advised not to get carried away,” he said. “Anything could happen. We could win the league, but we could also slip to fourth.”

Wolfsburg have a question mark over key midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic (bruised foot) against Dortmund as they seek to recover from their 4-1 humbling at Stuttgart.

Wolfsburg can point to an almost unblemished home record - one point dropped in 15 games - but are facing a Dortmund side that has risen to fifth place, just five points behind, on the back of a club-record seven straight wins.

“We are still league leaders and we want to rehabilitate ourselves by beating Dortmund. We still have every chance,” midfielder Christian Gentner said.

Surprise side Hertha are also in the reckoning, with club manager Dieter Hoeness forecasting the team that now wins all of their last three games will win the title.

Hertha have a doubt over striker Marko Pantelic (bruised thigh) for the trip to Cologne which will be followed by a home match against Schalke and a visit to bottom club Karlsruhe.

“Everything is possible,” said Hoeness who believes that both Wolfsburg and Bayern will still drop points.

But he warned: “Please let’s not talk about three wins, let’s just talk about the next match. Three points in Cologne, and then we can dream.”

Stuttgart stayed in the race with their victory over Wolfsburg, to take their unbeaten run to seven games including six wins.

But Markus Babbel’s side are not yet even assured of a Europa Cup place for next season and will need to win at Schalke before a home game against Energie Cottbus and a finale at Bayern Munich.

Sixth-placed Hamburg are now battling for a place in Europe, with relegation-threatened Bochum the visitors Wednesday.

Cottbus take on Borussia Moenchengladbach in a relegation fight, while Arminia Bielefeld face Hoffenheim badly needing points to lift them out of the relegation zone.

Bottom club Karlsruhe could be relegated if they lose at home to Hanover Wednesday, depending on other results, while Eintracht Frankfurt take on Werder Bremen in the evening’s other game.

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