Bundesliga: Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund primed for decision day | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 17.05.2019
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Bundesliga: Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund primed for decision day

As we approach the final day of the Bundesliga season, the title race is yet to be decided. Bayern Munich are in the driver's seat, but, if they lose, Borussia Dortmund could still become Bundesliga champions.

In recent years, the Bundesliga title has long been sewn up by now. Bayern Munich have become used to claiming it by April or even late March, given the size of their advantage over the rest of the field, but, for the first time since 2010, the title race will be decided on the final day of the campaign.

Bayern Munich are in pole position, though, and it would take a somewhat spectacular failure from the position they're in not to be crowned champions for a seventh successive season. Bayern host Eintracht Frankfurt, who themselves are not out of the race for a top-four finish, despite seeing their hopes seriously dented following a lethargic home defeat against Mainz last weekend. On the other hand, if everything goes against them on Saturday, Frankfurt, a team that also made it to the semifinals of the Europa League before losing to Chelsea on penalties, could even drop out of the European places altogether.

So with much left to play for, Frankfurt could offer a stern test for Bayern, who simply need to avoid defeat to be sure of lifting the trophy again. It promises to be an emotional farewell at the Allianz Arena for a few Bayern favorites. Rafinha is leaving the club as are legends Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, a duo who have become affectionately known as ‘Robbery' to Bayern fans. Those two will be desperate to play some part and to ensure their final season is another title-winning one.

Head coach Niko Kovac (pictured above) will be looking to prove his detractors wrong by wrapping up the title after a sometimes difficult campaign.

"In winter, we were still hopeful of winning the league," Kovac said in Thursday's prematch press conference. "Now it's in our hands and we intend on taking our chance. We can't wait for the game."

Bayern will be without goalkeeper captain Manuel Neuer and attacking midfielder James Rodriquez who are still out due to injury, but Joshua Kimmich, Thiago and Javi Martinez will be available.

Hoping against hope

The odds are stacked against Borussia Dortmund, who are two points behind Bayern and end the season with a difficult away game at Borussia Mönchengladbach, another side chasing a top-four finish. That looks to be coming down to a straight shootout between Gladbach and Leverkusen, with Gladbach having the slight edge of a better goal difference of two. 

Dortmund, of course, are going for the title though and it would be a sensational end to a dramatic season if they could pull off the impossible. Having led the Bundesliga by nine points in December, Lucien Favre's side will feel like they should have ended Bayern's run of dominance this season, but injuries and  a run of poor form held Dortmund back at a crucial time in the season. There's every chance that Dortmund will come back stronger next season, if they can hold on to the likes of Jadon Sancho and reinvest wisely the proceeds of the sale of Christian Pulisic to Chelsea.

For the trip to Mönchengladbach, Dortmund are expected to have goalkeeper Roman Bürki back in the lineup after recovering from a thigh problem, but head coach Lucien Favre said Abdou Diallo, who hasn't trained all week, probably won't be available.

"We need to focus on our game," Favre said, adding that his team would need to be prepared for all eventualities against the team he coached from 2011 to 2015. "They play well on the counterattack, but they can also press high up the pitch, and they need to win too," he said.

Fußball Marco Reus und Lucien Favre (picture-alliance/dpa/I. Fassbender)

Both Marco Reus and coach Lucien Favre will be visiting their previous place of work on Saturday


Europa League qualification up for grabs

Wolfsburg will be hoping to secure a Europa League spot by beating Augsburg at home on the last day. With Leverkusen, who travel to Hertha Berlin, and Borussia Mönchengladbach vying for a Champions League spot, Wolfsburg are looking to pounce if Eintracht suffer defeat in Munich – not an unlikely scenario. And with Bayern and RB Leipzig – both already qualified for the Champions League – Wolfsburg will be hoping to bring European football back to the Volkswagen Arena.

With Nuremberg' and Hannover's relegation already confirmed and Stuttgart's place in the playoff also decided, there is little more than pride and prize money at stake for the majority of the Bundesliga's clubs on the final day.

Matchday 34 fixtures (all games kick off on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CEST)

Bayern Munich vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Hertha Berlin vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Fortuna Düsseldorf vs.Hannover

Mainz vs. Hoffenheim

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Borussia Dortmund

Freiburg vs.Nuremberg

Werder Bremen vs. RB Leipzig

Schalke vs. Stuttgart

Wolfsburg vs. Augsburg

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