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Three games to go

Champions aim for record-setting run-in

The sixth double in the club’s history is not enough to sate Bayern’s hunger for success this term. With three Bundesliga matches still to play, the freshly-crowned champions have no intention of resting on their laurels, as two long-standing league records are still within reach. Munich begin work on their place in the history books at home to Arminia Bielefeld on Wednesday evening (Live in English from 7.45 pm CET on Web Radio).

“The team and I are looking forward to the next two weeks, when we’ll bring the season to a decent conclusion,“ commented Ottmar Hitzfeld after his side wrapped up a 21st German championship with three games to spare. The Bavarians have little left to play for, but professional pride and the desire to avoid handing their remaining opponents an unfair advantage mean the players will be ordered to take the last three matches utterly seriously.

Celebration with the home support

”We have three games left, and we want to enjoy ourselves for the rest of the season,“ announced Franck Ribéry, set to return in midweek along with Lucio, Zé Roberto and captain Oliver Kahn, after the quartet missed out on Sunday’s trip to Wolfsburg. “On Wednesday, we want to celebrate with the home crowd at the Allianz Arena,“ Ribéry pointed out.

Speaking ahead of final training on Tuesday, Hitzfeld announced he would field “our best team. We’ll do everything necessary to beat Bielefeld. Just because we’ve already won the league doesn’t mean we’re on holiday. We have no intention of distorting the competitive situation.“ The squad would prepare “just as meticulously for Arminia as we would for any other opponents.“

Increasing the margin

When they meet relegation candidates Bielefeld, Bayern will go in search not only of a 20th win of the campaign, but will also hope to extend their lead in the standings over second-placed Werder Bremen, who kick off at the same time in Hamburg, from ten to 13 points. Munich are hopeful of beating their own record from 2002-3 when they won the league by 16 points from VfB Stuttgart.

Another potential achievement would be breaking the internal club record of 25 goals conceded in 2001-2 and 2002-3. The Reds are currently showing just 18 goals against in 31 matches, so something akin to a calamity would have to occur for FCB not to set a new gold standard. Indeed, the Bavarians must be a decent bet to beat the Bundesliga record of a paltry 22 goals conceded in 34 matches, set by Werder in 1987-8.

Best centre-halves

”We want to be remembered as the best central defence in Bundesliga history. That’s our target,“ declared Martin Demichelis, aiming to join Lucio in preserving a 17th clean sheet in the league this term. At the other end of the field, Bielefeld can expect to feel the force of Luca Toni, the league’s top scorer with 21 goals and extremely unlikely to be dislodged from that position now. The Italian is within touching distance of Roy Makaay, whose first season at the club yielded 23 goals.

”It would be nice to set a record or two as we go,“ remarked Hitzfeld, calling on the players “to bid a fitting farewell to the fans“ in the last three fixtures. Mark van Bommel agreed. “We’re not going to hand out gifts, that wouldn’t be worthy of the champions,“ stated the Dutchman, brushing aside suggestions the Reds might take it easy from now on. “Nothing much has changed for us. We have another full house, and we want to reward the spectators for coming.“