Hoffenheim hope Bayern suffer title hangover
Hoffenheim hope they catch newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich suffering from a Berlin hangover when they chase a historic first victory against the Bavarians in Saturday’s German league clash.
Bayern were confirmed champions with a record seven games to spare on Tuesday after their 3-1 win at Hertha Berlin and partied into the morning light in Germany’s capital.
Despite Bayern’s massive 25-point lead in the table and their Champions League quarterfinal trip to Manchester United looming next Tuesday, mid-table Hoffenheim hope to beat the Bavarians at the 11th attempt.
“Playing Bayern is the greatest task in Germany, well probably in Europe, that a team can face at the moment,” said Hoffenheim’s team director Alexander Rosen.
“However, we have decided we want to compete and can only hope Bayern popped too many Champagne bottles.”
Hoffenheim captain Andreas Beck knows the challenge his side faces with Bayern on a record run of 19 consecutive league wins and are unbeaten in their last 52 Bundesliga matches dating back to October 2012.
“We’re looking forward to the Bayern duel, but we know it will be unbelievably hard,” said the 27-year-old Beck.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, who has already won three titles after just nine months in charge, has said they are aiming to become the first team to defend the Champions League title.
The ambitious Bavarians also want to become the first team to go through a Bundesliga season unbeaten, having dropped just four points in two draws all season.
Bayern will be at near full-strength, but Guardiola is expected to use his bench to rest his stars ahead of Tuesday’s Old Trafford clash.
Second-placed Borussia Dortmund are at relegation-threatened VfB Stuttgart with illness and injury giving coach Jurgen Klopp some concerns.
Both winger Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller have colds while right-back Lukasz Piszczek is struggling with a leg injury.
“He’s more than just under the weather,” said Klopp with the Poland international rated as doubtful.
Second-from-bottom Stuttgart desperately need the three points to escape the relegation places, but Dortmund need a confidence-boosting win ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal at Real Madrid.
“The Real game is still a fair way off and I don’t get the feeling that our next Champions League opponents are a topic in the changing room,” added Klopp.
Sami Hyypia’s fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen host bottom side Eintracht
Braunschweig having picked up their first win in 10 matches with a 3-1 victory at Augsburg on Wednesday.
With just five points separating the bottom five teams, Braunschweig boosted their chances of staying up with a 3-1 win over Mainz 05, who are chasing a top six finish and a European place next season.
There is a key relegation battled on Saturday night as Freiburg host Nuremberg with both teams just two points above the relegation places.
Schalke 04 v Hertha Berlin
Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim
Bayer Leverkusen v Eintracht Braunschweig
VfB Stuttgart v Borussia Dortmund
VfL Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt
Mainz 05 v Augsburg
Freiburg v Nuremberg
Bor. Moenchengladbach v Hamburg
Hanover 96 v Werder Bremen