Bayern Munich on verge of clinching Bundesliga title
Such is Bayern Munich's dominance of the Bundesliga that the club can wrap up the title in record time with a win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
No other side has claimed the title with six games to spare in the Bundesliga's 50 years.
Bayern is on a 10-game winning run, having lost once and dropped points just four times all season.
Even if Bayern fails to beat fifth-place Frankfurt, the club would claim its 23rd German championship if Borussia Dortmund fails to secure three points at home against Augsburg at the same time.
"We have it in our own hands and want to win with all our might in Frankfurt - with the result we'd be German champions. It would be an outstanding title,'' Bayern sports director Matthias Sammer said. "We'd be very, very happy if it works out on Saturday. It would also be totally positive psychologically, a highlight.''
Bayern has already eliminated holder Dortmund from the German Cup and has one foot in the Champions League semifinals after beating Juventus 2-0 on Tuesday, raising the prospect of a treble for Jupp Heynckes' side in his last season in charge.
The 67-year-old Heynckes is making way for former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to take over.
"Joy and excitement from a possible title don't have to be curtailed. Just after the game and in the evening thoughts will have to turn toward Juventus,'' Sammer said, referring to the second leg on Wednesday in Turin.
Frankfurt has impressed on its return to the Bundesliga, with coach Armin Veh earning plaudits for his side's attractive high-tempo playing style.
Last week's 3-2 win at bottom side Greuther Fuerth put Frankfurt on 42 points, breaking the season target of 40 set by Veh.
"We even reached it quicker than Bayern, who aren't champions yet,'' he joked.
Frankfurt's record at home against Bayern is good, with 18 wins compared to the visitors' nine.
But Bayern thrashed Hamburger SV 9-2 last weekend and Veh was understandably reserved about his side's prospects.
"You could hear certain declarations coming from Hamburg before the defeat. I'm keeping my mouth shut,'' said Veh, who recently fended off reported interest from Schalke by extending his contract.
Veh played under Heynckes as a midfielder at Borussia Moenchengladbach between 1979 and 1983, and said his former coach did not get nearly enough credit for his work at Bayern.
"The whole team is tracking back this season and playing faster than it did under (Louis) Van Gaal,'' Veh said.
Bayern's last title was under Van Gaal in 2010, when the Dutchman captured the double, and its two-year trophy drought - an eternity for a club accustomed to success - led to the hunger that has driven the side to unprecedented highs in the Bundesliga this season.
Any warning signs of complacency have been promptly addressed. Club president Uli Hoeness complained the side was playing "rubbish'' after a 2-0 Champions League loss at home to Arsenal last month.
"He had the flu,'' said Heynckes, who shrugged off the criticism.
Augsburg is in the relegation playoff place and will do all it can to ensure Dortmund surrenders its title.
The two-time defending champion may also have attention elsewhere after drawing 0-0 at Malaga in the Champions League on Wednesday. Tuesday's return quarterfinal is in Dortmund.
Also Saturday, Borussia Moenchengladbach hosts Fuerth, third-place Bayer Leverkusen welcomes Wolfsburg, fourth-place Schalke visits Werder Bremen, and Hamburg hopes to recover from its Munich humiliation with a win at home against Freiburg, which is chasing a European qualification place.
"We can't do anything about the last game. We have to stand up and look forward,'' Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink said on Thursday.
Nuremberg hosts Mainz on Sunday, when Stuttgart visits Hannover.
The 28th round of games gets underway Friday, when Fortuna Duesseldorf visits second-from-bottom Hoffenheim, which fired coach Marco Kurz and manager Andreas Mueller on Tuesday in a desperate bid to stave off relegation.
Former Schalke assistant Markus Gisdol is now in charge of a side that shares the league's worst defensive record with Bremen.