Bundesliga Preview: Title in sight for Bayern, Dortmund face rivals Schalke
By Football News
The Olympiastadion will provide the backdrop for a Bundesliga title party on Tuesday if Bayern Munich beat Hertha Berlin.
Bayern stand on the brink of securing their 24th German top-flight crown, and victory in Berlin will ensure that the runaway leaders cannot be caught by nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund, who are 23 points adrift.
A win would also clinch coach Pep Guardiola's third piece of silverware in his first season in charge at the Allianz Arena, having already added the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup to Bayern's bulging trophy cabinet.
The defending champions are searching for a 19th straight league win - a run that began in October and included a 3-2 victory over Hertha, who sprang an upset in taking an early lead in Munich.
Hertha are winless in their last four games and have failed to score in their previous two outings - hardly the ideal preparation for a date with all-conquering Bayern.
Jurgen Klopp's second-placed Dortmund, meanwhile, side welcome local rivals Schalke, who are third, to Signal Iduna Park, with only a point separating the two teams.
Dortmund's inconsistent season is highlighted by the fact that they have only won twice in their last seven home Bundesliga matches.
Schalke, high on confidence after three successive league wins, head into the derby clash with coach Jens Keller insisting reaching the UEFA Champions League again is more important than a top-two finish.
"The goal is as before, to qualify for the Champions League," said Keller. "In this regard Schalke are in a very good way.
"However, we must keep a cool head.
"We're playing a very, very good second half (of the season) and know our strengths."
Schalke have opened up a six-point gap on Bayer Leverkusen, with Sami Hyypia's men hoping to end a run of six games without a win when they face Augsburg on Wednesday.
Borussia Monchengladbach are poised to capitalise on Leverkusen's form slump and could leapfrog them in the table if they beat Eintracht Frankfurt.
Wolfsburg and Mainz can also move level with Leverkusen with victories over Werder Bremen and Eintracht Braunschweig respectively.
At the opposite end of the table, four teams are separated by just two points in the bottom five ahead of a crucial round of midweek fixtures.
Freiburg and fellow strugglers Hamburg clash, while Stuttgart - currently outside of the bottom three by a point - visit second-bottom Nuremberg.
Meanwhile, in mid-table, Hoffenheim entertain Hannover with both sides hoping to edge ahead of the other in the battle for a top-half finish.