FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Bayern Munich could become the earliest champion in Bundesliga history if it wins in Mainz on Saturday and Borussia Dortmund and Schalke drop points at the same time. Bayern won last season’s title with six matches to spare, this time it could be eight for the undefeated Bavarians.
Here are five things to know about the 26th Bundesliga round this weekend:
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Bayern is riding a record 50-match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga as it heads to Mainz. Bayern has won the last three games against Mainz, scoring three goals in each of them.
Mainz last won against Bayern on Nov. 27, 2011, but coach Thomas Tuchel has a 33-percent winning percentage against Bayern, the best of all Bundesliga coaches.
Former Bayern manager and president Uli Hoeness is soon going to prison and this could be his last weekend in freedom. Hoeness has been convicted of tax evasion on a private Swiss bank account and sentenced to three years and six months in prison. Since he decided not to challenge the verdict, Hoeness could be going to jail any time soon.
Hoeness is largely credited with building this Bayern team into a powerhouse that swept the Champions League, the Bundesliga and the German Cup last season. Bayern could repeat the unique treble this season.
With Arjen Robben extending his contract until 2017 and most key players bound to the club for at least another season, Bayern could be in for a long dominance.
DORTMUND’S HOME PROBLEMS:
Dortmund has lost its last two games, both at home: 2-1 to Borussia Moenchengladbach and then also 2-1 to Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League. Dortmund advanced to the quarterfinals 5-4 on aggregate but the players bemoaned the lack of support from the home crowd.
”Usually a home game should transmit a positive feeling and not leave you feeling as if you’ve committed a crime,” captain Sebastian Kehl said.
The reason behind the crowd’s displeasure is likely to be Dortmund’s poor performances at home, where it already has lost four matches. The team is 23 points behind Bayern.
So it might be good that Dortmund is traveling this weekend, although it could face a tough match at revived Hannover, which has lost only once in the last seven games at home against Dortmund.
Dortmund has declined to comment on reports that it has agreed terms with Hertha Berlin striker Adrian Ramos for next season. Dortmund has to compensate for the departure of Robert Lewandowski to Bayern.
Schalke has climbed to third, one point behind Dortmund, and is seeking to strengthen its grip on the place that secures a direct slot in the Champions League as it travels to bottom-place Eintracht Braunschweig.
Braunschweig has not lost in its last three but Schalke has the best record after Bayern since the Bundesliga resumed after the winter break, winning six of eight.
STUTTGART VS. HAMBURG:
Once upon a time, this could have been a championship showdown, now it’s a battle against relegation.
Stuttgart has drawn the last two after losing eight straight and is next to last and has hired veteran coach Huub Stevens, who saved Hamburg from relegation in 2007.
Hamburg has stabilized under new coach Mirko Slomka, but it is still only two points ahead of Stuttgart.
Stuttgart’s top striker Vedad Ibisevic is available again after sitting out a five-match suspension.