Bayern hosts Freiburg in Bundesliga
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Bayern Munich domination of the Bundesliga is so complete that Pep Guardiola’s team could clinch the title even earlier than last season, when it sealed the championship with seven matches to spare.
Undefeated Bayern is already nine points clear of Wolfsburg and 15 points ahead of third-place Bayer Leverkusen. Already assured of spending the winter break in the lead, Bayern next hosts Freiburg in the midweek 16th round and could increase the margin.
Elsewhere, Wolfsburg travels to troubled Borussia Dortmund, which desperately needs a victory.
Here are some things to know about the Bundesliga round to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday:
With the opposition fading away, all that seems left for Bayern to do in the Bundesliga is to chase its own records.
If Bayern wins the final two matches before the winter break, against Freiburg and Mainz, it will end the first half of the season with 45 points, one more than its record from 2005.
And if Bayern concedes fewer than four goals in the next two matches, it will break another record. The side has conceded only three goals so far in 15 matches. The record for best defense is seven goals conceded in the first half of a season.
Freiburg is a small, well-run team that manages to hang on in the Bundesliga despite losing its best players at the end of every season. Coach Christian Streich is a clever tactician who knows how to get the best out of a squad with no stars.
Freiburg is one of the three teams that managed to play Bayern to a draw last season. Streich’s team sits 15th after as many matches this season.
“We played two bad matches. The others were quite good,” Streich said after Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home with Hamburg. Freiburg has lacked fortune and efficiency in front of goal.
Borussia Dortmund’s revival lasted only one match and the 2011 and 2012 champion is in danger again after losing 1-0 at Hertha Berlin.
Staying true to the curse of misfortune following the club this season, it lost playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan for six weeks due to a thigh injury.
Wolfsburg will be looking to rebound from a 1-1 draw with promoted Paderborn. Dortmund has lost a league-high nine games, and has only once managed not to lose after falling behind 1-0 in nine matches.
POST-WORLD CUP SLUMP
Kevin Grosskreutz is the latest member of Germany’s World Cup squad to lose his place in Dortmund’s starting line-up. Grosskreutz wasn’t even in the squad for the match in Berlin.
Roman Weidenfeller, Erik Durm and Matthias Ginter already had been benched. But Grosskreutz is a special case. Dortmund-born Grosskreutz had played in 232 of 255 possible matches for Dortmund.
Coach Juergen Klopp said this was a “one-time” decision.
CHINA PLAYER FOR WOLFSBURG?
Wolfsburg is about to sign a Chinese player, with director Klaus Allofs saying only a “few details” remain to be cleared before Xizha Zhang joins the team. The China midfielder watched Wolfsburg’s 1-1 draw with Paderborn and would become the fourth Chinese player to play in the Bundesliga.
Wolfsburg believes Xixzhe can make it in the Bundesliga but the move will also help the club’s marketing activities in Asia and China, Allofs said.