Bayern hosts Hamburg, Wolfsburg at Leverkusen in Bundesliga
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Four goals in three matches is a sub-par performance by Bayern Munich standards. Not to mention five conceded.
Since the Bundesliga season resumed, Bayern has failed to shine, winning only one match — at bottom side Stuttgart. Pep Guardiola’s team has created few chances and not looked anything like the juggernaut that went through the first 17 matches undefeated.
But Bayern still enjoys a very comfortable eight-point lead over Wolfsburg, despite losing 4-1 there.
Here are some things to know ahead of the Bundesliga’s 21st round this weekend:
Franck Ribery has overcome a hamstring injury and is available for Saturday’s match against Hamburg, which should boost Bayern’s attack. Pep Guardiola has been reluctant to use all of his attacking options in the last three matches. Arjen Robben has played all of them, bur Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze have been rotating from the bench.
Bayern’s usually rock-solid midfield also has been unconvincing, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Xabi Alonso looking unsettled while playing together.
The Munich match will be the 100th showdown between the two sides. Hamburg is the only team to have played continuously in the Bundesliga since its creation in 1963.
After struggling at the bottom of the table, Hamburg has finally lifted itself to 12th place under new coach Joe Zinnbauer, who started his job with a 0-0 draw against Bayern at home.
Despite its longevity in the Bundesliga, Hamburg has a poor record against Bayern: of 99 previous matches, it has won only 19 and just five of 49 in Munich.
Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp sees the contract extension of star forward Marco Reus as a confidence boost for his embattled team.
Reus extended his contract earlier this week until 2019, ending months of transfer speculation and committing himself to his hometown club, although it is struggling near the bottom of the table in 16th.
“I believe in the power of symbols. Like me, Marco is convinced is that we can make it. He believes in a successful future here,” Klopp said.
Dortmund needs to beat Mainz, which has only one win in its last 12 matches, to escape from the danger zone. The match is on Friday.
DON’T MENTION EUROPE
Sitting fourth, surprise Augsburg has a shot at making it into the Champions League or settling for a place in the Europa League, a sensational achievement for a club without major stars and with a minor budget.
Just don’t tell the club president. Klaus Hoffmann says he has banned everyone in the club from thinking about a European competition next season.
“I always just look how far we are from place 16. I am not interested in anything in between. It’s unrealistic to think that we can stay on the same level as Bayern, Wolfsburg, Leverkusen, Schalke or Dortmund in the long run,” Hofmann said.
Right now, Augsburg is 15 points away from place 16. It next plays Werder Bremen, which has won its last four.