Fourth-placed Monchengladbach visit FC Bayern while Dortmund, Leipzig & Leverkusen play crucial away games.
When Hansi Flick took the FC Bayern München reins back in November, few would have predicted he would be on the verge of leading the record champions to the title with three games of the season to spare, yet that could become reality this Saturday.
Flick was appointed initially on an interim basis after a 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt saw Niko Kovac relieved of his duties, as the Bavarians slumped to fourth. Having established a new club record with 23 wins from his first 26 games in charge, and with forwards Robert Lewandowski (30 goals) and Thomas Müller (20 assists) smashing record after record, with 84 goals under his tutelage, Flick could crown the most impressive start to life as Bayern coach ever with silverware this weekend when Borussia Mönchengladbach visit the Allianz Arena.
For that extraordinary achievement to be possible, Bayern need Borussia Dortmund to drop points in their trip to Fortuna Düsseldorf just hours before they take to the field in Munich. If Dortmund lose to a side desperately needing points to climb out of the relegation play-off berth, then a Weißbier shower could baptise Flick as one of Europe’s top coaches, whereas a draw for Dortmund combined with a Bayern win would make the title – in view of their superior goal difference – all but a mathematical certainty. Then, and only then, can Flick and Bayern turn their attention to another record, set in 1971/72, of 101 goals in a single season. They only need 11 more to match it. “That would be nice, but we’ve got greater objectives,” Flick said. “We want a season rich in success, starting with the Bundesliga title.”
Gladbach will be no pushovers, however, with the race for UEFA Champions League football next season intensifying. The Foals find themselves in fourth place only on goal difference ahead of Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who booked their place in the DFB Cup final midweek, but still have their sights set on a top-four finish. Peter Bosz hopes to have Kai Havertz back from a knee injury for their trip to FC Schalke 04 on Sunday, after the influential Germany international missed their last two games.
RB Leipzig get the first opportunity to strengthen their claim for a top-four finish when they travel to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Friday evening, although their hosts have plenty to play for too as they pursue UEFA Europa League football next term. They are two points behind sixth-placed VfL Wolfsburg, who host another European aspirant in the form of SC Freiburg on Saturday. Those three clubs, separated by four points, look likely to contest what could potentially be two berths in the Europa League.
At the bottom of the table, Paderborn could be relegated if they lose at home to SV Werder Bremen, who desperately need to close a three-point gap behind Düsseldorf. Further up the standings, 1. FSV Mainz 05 meet FC Augsburg on Sunday in another key relegation battle where a win for either side would ensure they head into the final three games of the season with a cushion over the bottom three. The stakes are similar in 1. FC Köln’s clash with 1. FC Union Berlin, while Hertha Berlin host Eintracht Frankfurt with both sides relatively safe, but keen on victory for added security.