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Hertha BSC in Munich

‘Razor-sharp’ Reds target the next win

Berlin is the most sought-after destination for FC Bayern this season. The DFB Cup final will be played on 30 May, followed a week later by the Champions League final – both at the iconic Olympiastadion. If FCB are to book the trips they would so desperately like to make, they must defeat Borussia Dortmund and FC Barcelona in the next three weeks. Before that, however, the Reds can take a very big step towards retaining their title in the Bundesliga. Ironically enough, Hertha BSC from (of all places) Berlin are the Bavarians' next opponents on Saturday.

“We know we'll have effectively won our 25th championship should we win,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge before the home match between the table toppers and the Blue and Whites, who lie 13th. “If we win tomorrow it's virtually over,” said Pep Guardiola, addressing a press conference sandwiched between the Champions League semi-finals draw and the pre-match training session at the Säbener Strasse on Friday.

With five matchdays still to go FCB are twelve points ahead of VfL Wolfsburg, who face Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday. What's more, FCB have a vastly superior goal difference (+63) compared to Wolfsburg (+32). A home win against Berlin would be sufficient for the record champions to defend their title – if VfL fail to win in Gladbach. A draw against Hertha would do if Wolfsburg lose in Mönchengladbach a day later.

Only 14 players for the Hertha match

“On the last matchday we came up with the razor-sharp insight that we need one more win – it would take a miracle to refute that,” Thomas Müller commented after surveying the standings. In yet another strange coincidence concerning the Bavarians and Berlin, Guardiola and his team secured their 24th championship title last season in an away match against – take an educated guess – Hertha BSC, a mere 27 matches into the campaign.

But as in recent weeks, Guardiola will have to improvise in terms of his line-up. “We only have 14 players for the match against Berlin,” the Catalan said. In addition to the most recent loss (Holger Badstuber, torn muscle), Rafinha (groin) will not be available and it is unclear whether Juan Bernat (ankle) can play. It is still too early for Arjen Robben’s comeback.

“Arjen is getting better every day, but he isn't back at 100 percent yet,” Guardiola reported. On the plus side, Bastian Schweinsteiger is fit again and ready to return after a foot injury and a viral infection. “He needs matches. As a rule, he ought to play,” said the 44-year-old coach who is already thinking forward to his line-up options for the DFB Cup semi-final on Tuesday. “We do have Borussia Dortmund in mind to a certain extent,” Guardiola explained. Which, of course, means he has Berlin in mind.

Pre-match news from Hertha BSC:

  • Unavailable: Thomas Kraft (bruised ribs), Roy Beerens (ankle), Tolga Cigerci (metatarsal), Julian Schieber (knee surgery), Alexander Baumjohann (cruciate), Hajime Hosogai (injured foot)

  • Coach Pal Dardai: “A draw would be a fantastic image boost for us. That has to be our goal against the best team in the world. It's crucial that my lads play to their strengths: vigorous tackling and a willingness to run. Our system will be put to a tough test. I want our lads to play the way they were trained to do and to prove they have morale and spirit. Then everything's fine.”