Five things to look for in the Bundesliga
Bayern Munich want a goal-fest against bottom-side Darmstadt, Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund lock horns in the battle for third place and RB Leipzig hope to have striker Timo Werner fit.
Here are five things to look out for in this weekend’s Bundesliga:
Bayern’s baby boom
With a fifth-straight title confirmed, Thomas Mueller says Bayern Munich want to put on a show against bottom side Darmstadt to celebrate the squad’s new arrivals.
The Bayern family grew by two as both attacking midfielder Thiago Alcantara and striker Robert Lewandowski became fathers this week.
Lewandowski has 28 goals, one ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, in the race to be the Bundesliga’s top scorer.
Bayern were confirmed 2016/17 champions after hammering Wolfsburg last weekend.
“We have two home games left so we want to do something for the fans and offer a good show,” said Mueller.
“We want to show we are number one and Lewy still has the possibility of being top-scorer again.”
RB’s Werner digs deep
RB Leipzig’s top-scorer Timo Werner, who has scored 17 league goals, will push through the pain barrier for Saturday’s away match at Hertha Berlin.
The 21-year-old Germany international limped out of Leipzig’s goalless draw against Ingolstadt last weekend with a badly bruised leg.
“He is not completely pain free, but it’ll be nice if we have our most dangerous player on the pitch,” said Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.
Leipzig are on the verge of becoming the first Bundesliga club since Kaiserslautern in 1998 to qualify for a direct Champions League place straight after promotion.
They need Werner fit with Hertha having dropped only seven points this season at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
Borussia Dortmund and Saturday’s visitors Hoffenheim are vying for a direct Champions League place next season — and the mind-games have already begun.
“It’s simply like this – Borussia Dortmund are under the greater pressure and they know that,” said Hoffenheim’s coach Julian Nagelsmann, whose side is third — one point ahead of Dortmund.
With three games left, the team which finishes third will go straight into the Champions League draw while fourth means a play-off.
“We have the form, the self-confidence and the mentality to give us a home win,” replied Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
Japan’s Shinji Kagawa, Gonzalo Castro and Portugal’s Raphael Guerreiro are all vying for places in Dortmund’s attacking midfield while Nagelsmann has a full squad to chose from.
Hamburg battle historic drop
As the only current Bundesliga club to have never been relegated, Hamburg face an uphill battle to avoid the dreaded drop at home to Mainz on Sunday.
Markus Gisdol’s team are 16th, which means an end-of-season relegation play-off against the team which finishes third in division two and both Mainz and Hamburg have 33 points.
Gisdol has thrown ex-club captain Johan Djourou out of the squad for giving a critical interview and the ex-Arsenal defender is set to leave when his contract expires in June.
Hamburg were hammered 4-0 at Augsburg last weekend while Mainz have won just two of their last ten games.
Darmstadt refuse to surrender
Although Darmstadt have won their last three games, defeat to Bayern at the Allianz Arena on Saturday will confirm their relegation, but coach Torsten Frings will not go down without a fight.
“We don’t want to surrender in Munich, instead we want to give the best account of ourselves,” said Frings, an ex-Germany midfielder who won the 2004/05 Bundesliga title with Bayern.
“There are always miracles and we want to make life as difficult as possible for Bayern,” he added with his team seven points from safety.
However, Darmstadt need a near-miracle to beat Bayern.
They lost 3-1 in February 2016, their only previous appearance at Munich’s Allianz Arena, and have never beaten Bayern in seven previous meetings.
Friday (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Cologne v Werder Bremen (1830)
Bayern Munich v Darmstadt
Borussia Dortmund v Hoffenheim
Borussia Moenchengladbach v Augsburg
Ingolstadt v Bayer Leverkusen
Eintracht Frankfurt v Wolfsburg
Hertha Berlin v RB Leipzig (1630)
Hamburg v Mainz, Freiburg v Schalke (1530)
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