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'Good opponents'

FCB aim to clinch title in Berlin

Business before pleasure: Pep Guardiola and his Bayern charges are looking to secure the 24th league title in the club’s history in Berlin on Tuesday night (Live in English from 8 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio). However, there is still work to be done, as the Bayern head coach explained ahead of the away fixture at Hertha BSC: “We’ve got to play well and win first.”

Out of “respect” for “good opponents”, the boss did not want to talk about possible celebrations. However, the Spaniard was prepared to admit he was looking forward to a possible championship party: “I’ll be very happy and proud the moment we win the title.” A victory in front of a capacity 76,197 crowd at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin would mean Bayern claiming the title on Matchday 27, setting another record as the earliest winners in the 51-year history of the Bundesliga.

“The championship is the most important title. You have to win week-in, week-out,” said Guardiola, emphasising the value of winning the league, “you’ve always got to show you’re better than the opposition.” FCB have certainly fitted the bill in the current campaign with no defeats to date. “We’ve done well so far this season but we obviously want to carry on in the same vein,” said the Spaniard.

Hertha BSC have faltered recently after a surprisingly good first half of the season. The Reds experienced that at first hand in a hard-fought 3-2 home win at the end of October. “Hertha have been outstanding so far this season,” said Guardiola in praise of coach Jos Luhukay’s team. Hertha are “very good on the break,” but they can also “use the ball well.”

Thiago fit again

Bayern have a full squad to choose from following Thiago’s return to fitness after a thigh problem, but Hertha will have to replace central defender Sebastian Langkamp (one-match ban). Levan Kobiashvili and Christoph Janker are possible alternatives. “We need to reproduce the performance we put on in Munich,” said Luhukay.

The Hertha coach is also fully aware that everything will have to go to plan against Bayern if they are to pick up all three points. “We’re up against a team that appears to be invincible,” said Luhukay, “we have a ten percent chance of winning the game. Bayern are incredibly focused week after week. I’ve got great respect for them. The way they perform is incredible.”

Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga campaign for the second season in a row and are looking for back-to-back titles to crown that achievement. The hard-working Guardiola would definitely join in with the celebrations but he will always keep an eye on the big picture: “I don’t just look at the results, at the 18 wins on the trot, at the 23-point lead. I also look at the way we play. And there’s plenty of room for improvement.”