BERLIN (Reuters) – Bayern Munich are 90 minutes away from securing a record-extending seventh straight Bundesliga crown on Saturday, snatching the title away from Borussia Dortmund with a game to spare.
The Bavarians, nine points behind then leaders Dortmund at the end of year, will clinch the title if they win at RB Leipzig, having opened up a four-point lead following consecutive slip-ups by their title rivals in the past weeks.
They will also be crowned champions if they get the same result as Dortmund, who face Fortuna Duesseldorf without their suspended captain Marco Reus.
“We are convinced that we will be the champions,” said Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich, who has set up 12 goals for his team mates.
But he warned Leipzig, with the league’s best defence and fastest counter-attacks this season, will be hard to break open.
“They let in very few goals and have great speed in their team. They always look to play deep with Yussuf Poulsen and Timo Werner,” said Kimmich.
Poulsen and Werner have scored a combined 31 goals, half of their 62-goal haul.
Victory at Leipzig, who have already secured third place and a Champions League spot next season, would mean Bayern winger Franck Ribery, leaving at the end of the season after 12 years, will become the only Bundesliga player to have won nine league titles.
It will also be a personal success for coach Niko Kovac, whose team’s early-season dip in form almost cost him his job in his first year in Munich.
Their early Champions League exit further increased pressure on Kovac, who can still win the domestic double with the German Cup final awaiting on May 25.
With the team set to renew in the summer following the departure of Ribery and fellow winger Arjen Robben and the potential exit of several more players, including Jerome Boateng, Bundesliga victory would be a nod to a winning generation at Bayern.
Dortmund have only a slim chance of winning their first league title since 2012 and they need all three against Fortuna together with a Bayern slip-up. Bayern have 74 points, Dortmund are on 70.
At the other end of the table Nuremberg (19 points) and bottom club Hanover 96 (18) are with their backs to the wall and will be relegated if they fail to win against Borussia Moenchengladbach and Freiburg respectively.
VfB Stuttgart, in 16th on 24, will make sure they hold on to their relegation/promotion playoff spot with a point against VfL Wolfsburg.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)