Bayern Munich chasing more Bundesliga records
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — With the Bundesliga title already in hand, Bayern Munich can start thinking about finishing the season undefeated with the most points ever collected in the championship.
Borussia Dortmund and Schalke are competing for second place, while the battle against relegation involves seven teams, including such big-name former champions as Stuttgart and Hamburger SV.
CHAMPION AND STILL COUNTING: Bayern, already the earliest champion in the league history, could eclipse another record it set last season when it finished with 91 points. Bayern now has 77, with seven matches and 21 points at stake. Bayern has won 25 of 27 games, with two draws. Bayern has won its last 19 games in the league and is undefeated in 52 matches.
Pep Guardiola’s team is on course to repeat its unprecedented treble of last season, when it won the Bundesliga, the Champions League and the German Cup.
Next for Bayern is high-scoring and high-conceding Hoffenheim, which has the second-best attack (60) after Bayern and the worst defense (59) in the league.
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer says Bayer isn’t about to relax: “We never lose our motivation. We take every opponent seriously and we go into every game with great confidence.”
STUTTGART ON THE EDGE: Stuttgart, the 2007 Bundesliga champion, is next to last, two points from safety, following its 2-0 loss in Nuremberg in mid-week. Now comes Dortmund, which is only one point ahead of Schalke in their battle for second.
Under new coach Huub Stevens, Stuttgart beat Hamburg but then lost in Nuremberg and will have to strive for at least a point against Dortmund, a tough prospect.
HAMBURG HOPES: Striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga returned after missing three games with an injury and promptly scored — but it was enough only to salvage a 1-1 draw at home against Freiburg. Freiburg is two points ahead of Hamburg, which is 16th and in the place that means a playoff to stay in the league. Hamburg is the only founding member of the Bundesliga that has not been relegated since its inception in 1963. It plays at Moenchengladbach on Sunday.
“Freiburg had one chance and scored and we failed to use our opportunities,” Lasogga said.
Lasogga has 12 goals this season and is hoping to make Germany’s World Cup squad. He is on loan from Hertha Berlin and Hamburg wants to keep him, but Berlin says it wants him back. Hamburg’s only hope of keeping him is to avoid relegation.
NUREMBERG’S DRMIC: If Nuremberg avoids relegation, it will be thanks to Josip Drmic. The striker scored a brace against Stuttgart and now has 15 goals for the season after a very important win. Nuremberg is still only two points above relegation but its prospects look better than after the first half of the season. It visits Freiburg on Saturday.
Drmic’s goals make it more probable that he gets a place in Switzerland’s World Cup squad.
“Right now all I am thinking about is the club but of course I’d like to be at the World Cup,” Drmic said.
LEVERKUSEN REBOUNDS: After going nine matches without a win in all competitions and losing five of its last six in the Bundesliga, Leverkusen rebounded by winning 3-1 in Augsburg and probably saved coach Sami Hyypia’s job in the process.
Leverkusen is now three points clear in fourth place, which means Champions League qualifying, and is four points behind Schalke in third.
Hyypia reshuffled his lineup and it remains to be seen whether captain Simon Rolfes will return against bottom Braunschweig, which grabbed a lifeline by beating Mainz 3-1.