Created on 03-05-2008 at 00:00 AM
Back on 26 April 2003, Ottmar Hitzfeld guided Bayern to a 2-0 victory away to VfL Wolfsburg, a win which also secured an 18th German title for the Munich club. The teams meet again in Wolfsburg this Sunday, and once again, Bayern could come away from the city built on and around the Volkswagen corporation as newly-crowned German champions.
The Bavarians could realistically have popped the champagne corks last weekend, but a draw against the Wolves would settle the last theoretical doubts. “You’d need more than the seventh wonder of the world for us to lose the title now,” chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented. Before this weekend’s round of matches, the Reds led their rivals by 12 points with four matches remaining, and had a vastly superior goal difference to boot.
Hitzfeld hoping for positive reaction
For a while, it appeared Bayern might be crowned champions on Saturday without lifting a finger. However, just as Hitzfeld and the squad were taking off from Munich airport for Wolfsburg at around 5 pm, Markus Rosenberg put Bremen a goal up at home to Energie Cottbus, with Werder going on to win 2-0 and keep the title race alive, at least on paper. Schalke, level with the northerners before kick-off, were held 1-1 at home by Hanover.
Thus it is that Bayern still require a point to be mathematically certain of the title, “and we want it as soon as possible,“ Hitzfeld declared after the Bayern party’s return from the UEFA Cup semi-final in St. Petersburg. The coach voiced hopes that the sobering 4-0 defeat to the Russians would provoke “a positive reaction“ from his team in Wolfsburg.
Magath keen to poop party
However, Wolves coach Felix Magath is aiming to make his former club delay their championship celebrations. “We took a point in Leverkusen and we’d like another nice success with three more points against the German champions-elect. This is an important match for us,” declared the VfL coach and Director of Sport. Wolfsburg need a win over FCB to preserve their hopes of European football next term. “I’ve crossed swords with Felix on many occasions. I’m looking forward to seeing him again,” smiled Hitzfeld.
The Munich line-up on Sunday may well have an unfamiliar look to it. Oliver Kahn (back), Franck Ribéry (strain), Lucio (Achilles), Zé Roberto, Miroslav Klose (surgery on broken nose) and Hamit Altintop (recovery from broken metatarsal) are definite non-starters, while Martin Demichelis and Bastian Schweinsteiger are rated doubtful. For his part, Magath is without Jonathan Santana (groin), Facundo Quiroga (knee) and Josué (suspended).