Bayern hosts Hamburg in Bundesliga

BY foxsports • February 25, 2010

Bayern Munich remained neck-and-neck with Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the Bundesliga standings thanks to some help from an unexpected source and will look to take matters into its own hands when it plays Hamburger SV on Sunday.

Per Mertesacker's goal in stoppage time gave Werder Bremen a 2-2 draw against Leverkusen last Sunday. That result prevented Bayern from falling two points behind after its own 1-1 draw at next-to-last placed Nuremberg. Bayern and Leverkusen are equal on points (49) though Leverkusen holds a single-goal edge on goal difference.

At the same time, third-placed Schalke failed to take advantage to close the gap when it lost at Wolfsburg and is now four points behind.

Relying on outside help is probably not a viable long-term option for Bayern.

"We have to win three points, no matter how," midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said ahead of Sunday's home match against fourth-placed Hamburger SV (40 points).

"We are still angry over the 1-1 in Nuremberg. We should have won that game," Schweinsteiger said.

The draw ended Bayern's run of 13 consecutive wins, nine of them in the Bundesliga.

"I knew that after 13 straight wins a draw or a defeat would come. Bayern can't win all games," Bayern's director of sports Christian Nerlinger said. "But Leverkusen did not use the chance. That last-gasp draw must feel like a defeat to them. They could have taken a great step (toward the championship).

"One goal behind is not something to make us nervous. At the end (of the season) we'll be in front. It doesn't matter when we take over the top, what matters is that we are there after 34 matches."

"It will be interesting to see how Leverkusen will handle to growing pressure until the end of the season," Nerlinger added.

Bayern midfielder Thomas Mueller said his team was stronger than Leverkusen.

"We have to concentrate on ourselves," he said.

Leverkusen is undefeated in 23 games and one more game without defeat will set a Bundesliga record.

"It's a strange feeling," said Leverkusen striker Eren Derdiyok, who still hasn't lost in the Bundesliga since moving to the team from Basel.

"If we remain right there at the top until the game against Bayern (in the 30th round), it will be in our hands," Derdiyok said of Leverkusen's chances of lifting its first championship.

"But we have to focus on the next game because if we starting thinking far ahead we could jeopardize our chances," said Derdiyok, who has six goals in the last seven games.

Leverkusen on Saturday hosts lowly Cologne, which is coming off a 5-1 defeat at home against Stuttgart.

"We have to score an early goal and not allow the match to get out of hand," Leverkusen's defender Gonzalo Castro said.

The matches between the two neighboring clubs can become hotheaded affairs.

Another bitter local rivalry will take place Friday when Schalke plays fifth-place Borussia Dortmund.

Also on Saturday, it's Hertha Berlin vs. Hoffenheim; Mainz vs. Werder Bremen; Stuttgart vs. Eintracht Frankfurt; Borussia Moenchengladbach vs. Freiburg and Bochum vs. Nuremberg.

On Sunday, Hannover hosts Wolfsburg.

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