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Sports

Two Down, One to Go for Bayern

Last Saturday, Bayern knocked off Bremen, then they lost to Arsenal on Wednesday but advanced in the Champions League anyway. On Sunday, Felix Magath's team faces their nearest rival, Schalke 04.

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Schalke and Bayern tangle up on Sunday in a match for supremacy

The final 10 games of the Bundesliga season begin Saturday, but the highlight match is on Sunday when league-leader Bayern Munich travels to Gelsenkirchen to play Schalke 04, who are even on points. There has been lots of talk coming from both sides before this match -- mind games to psyche out the opponent.

Munich's vice president, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, told Sport-Bild that Bayern will always be better than Schalke 04. And comments like those from Schalke manager Rudi Assauer, that Schalke would be the richest German team in 15 years, are cannon fodder for Rummenigge.

"As long as Schalke is standing in the line for bank loans and Bayern is in line to withdraw deposits," the legendary Bayern striker said, "I can only grin about such statements."

Schalkes neuer Trainer Jupp Heynckes und Manager Rudi Assauer in Gelsenkirchen

Schalke 04's manager Rudi Assauer, (right, with former coach Jupp Heynckes) has ambitious plans for the Ruhr Valley club -- wanting even to overtake Bayern Munich as Germany's wealthiest

Those are strong words coming from a side that hasn't won in Gelsenkirchen since 1998. Schalke striker Ebbe Sand knows that no matter the outcome on Sunday, the Royal Blues will finish the season on top.

"Bayern definitely have the better players," the Danish international told kicker magazine, "but we have the better team." And may the better team, or better group of players if you're a Munich fan, win.

Saturday offers a helping of desperation

Before the Bundesliga's best two teams clash on Sunday, Saturday sees the league's worst teams scrambling to improve their slim chances to remain in the top division. The bottom four clubs face each other when cellar-dweller Freiburg (16 points) take on Nuremberg (15th place, 25 points) and Bochum (16th, 19 points) travel to Rostock (17th, 17 points).

Fußball Bundesliga 2004/05 16. Spieltag FC Bayern München - 1. FC Nürnberg

Can Nuremberg's Marek Mintal (left) continue to carry his team against Freiburg?

Nuremberg still stand close to the relegation zone, but coach Wolfgang Wolf has the league's top scorer in Marek Mintal (19 goals) who single-handedly has outscored Freiburg (18 goals total). Freiburg's punchless attack is complemented by a defense that can best be compared to a sieve. Volker Finke's team has let in a league-high 50 goals.

Bochum have a little more oomph up front (29 goals) but their defense has let them down also, having given up 50 goals as well. Rostock won their first game under coach Jörg Berger last week. Now, Berger believes his team can make up the ground necessary to avoid relegation. Board chairman Manfred Wimmer was more realistic after the victory: "It was a sign of life, nothing more."

Click below to read about the other weekend games.

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