Bayern Munich at Leverkusen

Bayern Munich’s stretch of crucial games concludes Saturday with a

trip to Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.

Fresh from securing a place in the semifinals of the

Champions League to stay on course for a treble, Bayern can move

nine points clear of third-place Leverkusen and move closer to

reclaiming the Bundesliga title.

“It’s been a super season, but we still haven’t won anything.

We have to keep going,” said Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who scored

the second goal in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss at Manchester United that

took Bayern into the last four on away goals.

Schalke, which is one point behind Bayern, plays at

relegation-threatened Hannover. A victory in Leverkusen would mean

that Bayern has beaten both of its closest title-chasing rivals.

“It’s important to retain the tension, that we don’t start

being complacent and that we keep on fighting these last few

weeks,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

After the game in Manchester, Rummenigge hosted a party in

the team’s hotel and presented Franck Ribery with a cake for his

27th birthday and a pen – which Rummenigge hoped the France winger

would use to sign a contract extension.

Ribery is reportedly the target of several top European clubs

but Bayern hopes to keep him, especially if the team starts winning

titles again. Bayern is in the last four of the Champions League

for the first time since 2001, when it won the title.

Despite sputtering along the way after a shaky start, Louis

van Gaal’s team reclaimed top spot in the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win

at Schalke last week.

With five rounds remaining, Bayern has 59 points, Schalke 58

and faltering Leverkusen 53.

The team did not fly back to Munich after the game in

Manchester but instead chose to prepare near Leverkusen.

In Leverkusen, Bayern will find Jupp Heynckes, under whose

guidance the team qualified for the Champions League last season by

finishing second. Heynckes is a close friend of Bayern president

Uli Hoeness.

Heynckes stepped in for the last five games as a replacement

for Juergen Klinsmann and then moved on to Leverkusen.

Leverkusen, which led the league for 16 weeks, is coming off

three straight losses and another defeat Saturday would not only

dash its title hopes but also threaten its third-place position and

a slot in Champions League qualifying. Borussia Dortmund is only

one point behind and travels to Mainz.

“I am certain that we will finish third,” Heynckes said. “We

have the potential and we have the morale. We are playing well but

we are making some mistakes that have cost us dearly.

“And I don’t think that the championship will be decided

Saturday.”

Schalke aim to bounce back from its disappointing loss to

10-man Bayern, dropping Felix Magath’s team to second place.

After the loss, Magath said his team could forget about

winning its first championship in 52 years.

“We don’t need to talk about that game, it’s behind us,” he

said.

Qualifying for the Champions League would be a major boost

for financially strapped Schalke and allow Magath to add to his

squad and maybe keep striker Kevin Kuranyi, who has contributed 18

goals this season.

Eintracht Frankfurt takes a three-game winning streak to

Borussia Moenchengladbach to kick off the 30th round Friday.

On Saturday, Hertha Berlin visits Stuttgart, Hoffenheim hosts

Cologne and Werder Bremen plays Freiburg.

On Sunday, Bochum travels to Hamburg and Nuremberg hosts

Wolfsburg.