Bayern hosts Hannover in Bundesliga
While trying to save itself from relegation, Hannover also has a
major role in the Bundesliga title race.
The struggling team surprisingly beat Schalke 4-2 last week
at home to deal Felix Magath’s team perhaps a crucial blow to its
hopes of a first championship in 52 years.
Now, Hannover travels to Bayern Munich, which needs a win to
cement or extend its two-point lead atop the standings.
There are four rounds left in the season, and with Bayer
Leverkusen six points behind Bayern, it’s a two-team race for the
Bayern is on course for a treble, having reached final of the
German Cup and the semifinals of the Champions League.
But club officials have stressed that the Bundesliga title
remains the primary objective.
“I believe that the Bundesliga title is the key to possible
further success,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
After beating Schalke and drawing with Leverkusen in
successive weeks, Bayern is well placed to finish its first season
under coach Louis van Gaal with at least one piece of silverware.
Van Gaal has baffled the German media by stating that he
would leave Bayern if he managed to win all three titles – “there
would be nothing to improve then,” he said.
Although the statement in a German television interview
appeared to be at least partly in jest, the other media have not
been sure what to make of van Gaal’s statement.
Hannover may have been encouraged by its win over Schalke,
but it has only one victory in 20 trips to Munich.
The club has recovered slowly from the suicide of captain and
goalkeeper Robert Enke and is in 16th place, one point from safety.
The 16th place means a relegation/promotion playoff against the
third-place team from the second division.
Schalke’s losses against Bayern and Hannover have severely
damaged its title hopes and Magath has said a place in the
Champions League remains his team’s goal.
But Bayern’s general manager Christian Nerlinger doesn’t
think Magath’s team has surrendered.
“It is all in our own hands. But I don’t believe that Schalke
will continue losing,” Nerlinger said.
Schalke’s captain Marcelo Bordon says his team has not given
up all hope.
“We want the maximum. Nothing is over yet. We will fight for
everything possible,” said the bulky veteran who defender who is
back after a suspension.
Schalke plays Borussia Moenchengladbach, which is safe in the
middle of the table.
Leverkusen, winless in its last four games, visits Stuttgart
knowing that its third place is under threat from Borussia Dortmund
and Werder Bremen, who are two and three points behind,
Stuttgart is hoping to close the gap to a place in the Europa
Bremen travels to last season’s champion Wolfsburg, while
Dortmund hosts slumping Hoffenheim on Sunday.
Hamburger SV hopes to remain sixth when it hosts Mainz.
Cologne kicks off the 31st round Friday at home against
Bochum. In the relegation battle, Freiburg plays Nuremberg on
Saturday, while Eintracht Frankfurt hosts bottom-place Hertha
Berlin on Sunday.