Bayern is finally top team in Germany once again
BERLIN (AP) — After beating German Cup holder Borussia Dortmund to reassert the club as the country’s dominant force, Bayern Munich will turn its attention back to the Bundesliga.
“We’ve definitively restored supremacy in German football. The German balance of power is clarified,” Bayern president Uli Hoeness said Wednesday after his team beat Dortmund 1-0 to reach the semifinals.
Relegation-threatened Hoffenheim is unlikely to derail Bayern’s march toward its 23rd league title on Sunday, and it seems just a matter of time before the club finally wraps it up.
Dortmund and third-place Bayer Leverkusen both dropped points last weekend, leaving Bayern 17 points clear with 11 rounds to play.
At Hoffenheim, second from last with the league’s worst defense, there appears to be little hope against a side with 19 wins and only one loss in 23 games. Bayern has scored 63 goals and conceded only eight.
Bayern has yet to concede a goal in the German Cup, and the club also holds a commanding 3-1 lead over Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League before the return leg in Munich on March 13.
Fans in Munich are already taking a league and cup double for granted. Talk has turned to making up for last season’s Champions League final loss and claiming a treble.
Dortmund looked second best on Wednesday, especially in the first half, and might have lost by a heavier margin but for crucial interventions from goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller — the visitors’ busiest player.
Nevertheless, the sense of relief that came once Arjen Robben’s goal proved enough was palpable. Bayern had won only one of its past seven matches with Dortmund, but the club has now emerged unbeaten from three meetings this season, including the season-opening Super Cup win in August.
Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp, whose side’s only hope of silverware this season remains the Champions League, bristled in response to Hoeness’ boast about a transfer of power.
“Bayern are the only club interested is these balances of power,” Klopp said. “We are still going through development and it’s not so bad. I certainly don’t think that we have no hope against Bayern in the next couple of years.”
Hoffenheim has even bigger problems after losing to fellow relegation candidate Augsburg last week. The club backed by software millionaire Dietmar Hopp is facing the prospect of relegation for the first time since winning promotion in 2008.
Hoffenheim’s Munich-born U.S. international, Fabian Johnson, said there would be slightly less pressure on Sunday because expectations of claiming a result against Bayern are so low.
“Bayern are clear favorites, but we’re in a bad situation and there are three points to be gained in every game. That’s why it’s also a game like any other,” Johnson told the club website.
Fortuna Duesseldorf hosts Mainz in Sunday’s other game.
Dortmund, which had already conceded its league title, hosts Hannover on Saturday.
“We want to annoy the still-reigning champions a little,” said Hannover coach Mirko Slomka, whose side is seventh. “We’re focused on the hunt for European (qualification) places.”
Also Saturday, Leverkusen hosts Stuttgart, Schalke visits Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen hosts Augsburg, Freiburg visits Nuremberg, and Hamburger SV hopes to rebound from last weekend’s 5-1 loss at Hannover against last-place Greuther Fuerth.
“We played like a school team,” said Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink. “The club has had little success is recent years. The players need to ask themselves if that’s their fault.”
Fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt gets the 24th round under way against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday.
The home side is without a goal over three games but welcomes Croatian striker Srdan Lakic and Japanese midfielder Takashi Inui back from a back injury and suspension, respectively.
Moenchengladbach (10th) welcomes back club top scorers Juan Arango and Patrick Herrmann as the club hopes to atone for its Europa League exit to Lazio.
“We shouldn’t let our fans wait another 16 years for European Cup games,” said Moenchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.