Created on 29-04-2010 at 00:00 AM
William Shakespeare didn’t invent the notion of “the merry month of May,” but the Bard used the phrase, and his works frequently refer to the fifth month of the year as a time of joy, fruitfulness and celebration. In the overwhelmingly agricultural society of the time, May indeed heralded the end of the harsh winter months, with blossom, sunshine and rapid crop growth leading to the promise of a rich harvest ahead.
This May could yet be one of the merriest months in Bayern’s history to date. FCB have four games to go this term – and four wins would deliver the club’s first-ever treble. The opportunity presented by the next three weeks is “historic”, according to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Munich could yet win the league, the cup and the Champions League.
This Saturday sees the penultimate round of matches in the Bundesliga. Bayern entertain 16th-placed VfL Bochum. Schalke, who are level on points in second, are at home to third-placed Werder Bremen. Should Louis van Gaal’s men win and Schalke lose, Bayern’s vastly superior goal difference (13 better than Schalke’s) would effectively seal the title.
However, the race will not be decided once and for all until the final matchday a week later. Bayern travel to Hertha Berlin, and Schalke to Mainz 05. The Bavarians return to the Berlin Olympic Stadium the following week for the DFB Cup showdown against Bremen. The season climaxes another week after that with the Champions League final in Madrid against Inter.
“We’re approaching the best part of the season,” said Philipp Lahm: “Champions League final, the cup final, top of the Bundesliga – who wouldn’t enjoy it?” Lahm and Co could claim honours aplenty, “but we’ve won nothing yet, and we could lose the lot,” Louis van Gaal warned.
Bayern only have to look back to 1999 for proof of that. Ottmar Hitzfeld’s first season saw FCB on for the treble. Bayern duly claimed the championship shield, but lost the cup final to Werder on penalties, and the Champions League final in the most dramatic way possible, to two stoppage-time goals by Manchester United.
Te idea is for history not to repeat itself. “We’re all hungry,” declared captain Mark van Bommel, a Champions League winner in 2006 with Barcelona. “The team is riding a wave of euphoria right now. That’s a huge boost for the run-in,” said director of sport Christian Nerlinger. And Van Gaal is a confident man: “I really believe we can win something.”