Munich have a score to settle in Nuremberg

March 28th, 2008 - 12:08 pm ICT by admin  

(German Football Preview)
Hamburg, March 28 (DPA) Bayern Munich take a seven-point lead into a 50th Bavarian Bundesliga football duel in Nuremberg Saturday and don’t want to slip up again against a drop-zone side. Two weeks ago Bayern were stunned 0-2 by then bottom club Energie Cottbus, but confidence at the frontrunners was seemingly restored with a 2-1 win against in-form Bayer Leverkusen last Saturday.

Nuremberg, by contrast, are second from last in a struggle against the drop. Their last league win was 10 matches ago, 2-1 against Hertha Berlin Dec 9.

“We need the points. Every game is like a final in our situation,” said Nuremberg general manager Martin Bader.

Nuremberg beat Bayern 3-0 at home last season, but it was their only win in the last 11 meetings. The omens are firmly against them as Munich has won 30 of the 49 league dates, 12 of them in Nuremberg.

The defeat in February 2007 was the first game of Ottmar Hitzfeld in his return as Bayern coach, and the helmsman is out for revenge before he leaves Munich after the season to coach Switzerland.

“We have a score to settle,” said Hitzfeld.

“I am looking forward to the game, many things have changed. Our team will be hard to beat if it has learnt its lesson from the 0-2 defeat in Cottbus.”

Suspended Munich midfielder Mark van Bommel said: “We want to get the three points as we want to clinch the title as early as possible.”

While Bayern are lonely at the top, the fight for European berths behind them is heating up more and more.

SV Hamburg, who are unbeaten in 10 matches, lie in second place with 46 points. Leverkusen, Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 are all on 44 points and champions VfB Stuttgart are in the frame again as well after winning five of their last six games.

Hamburg host 15th-placed Arminia Bielefeld, Leverkusen entertain mid-table Eintracht Frankfurt, Bremen aim to rebound from three games without victory when they host bottom club MSV Duisburg, Schalke visit SC Karlsruhe, all Saturday, and Stuttgart are at Hanover Sunday.

It is a matter of pride and money if a club finishes second or fifth in the race. The second and third-placed teams can make it into the Champions League along with the champion, while number four and five will be in the UEFA Cup.

Kicker sports magazine estimated the financial difference between the two European events at 15 million euros just for the group stage.

There is also a financial difference between the top flight and the second division as the fight against relegation continues as well.

Hansa Rostock want to edge closer to safety with a victory against VfL Wolfsburg in the first weekend match Friday. Cottbus are in the drop zone in 16th place ahead of their Sunday date with Hertha Berlin.

The other Bundesliga match brings together mid-table teams VfL Bochum and Borussia Dortmund.

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