With the exception of the final day, Bayern Munich does not have any real hurdles to overcome on their way to their 19th title. For their opponent Bochum, there's a light at the end of the tunnel on the 30th match day.
Who can stop Bayern Munich from winning their 19th Bundesliga title?
Once left for dead in the water, Bochum have dragged themselves out from the depths of the Bundesliga. One point separates them from 15th place Mönchengladbach with five matches remaining. A 2-1 win on the road at Kaiserslautern gave them their 10th point in the last four games and realistic chances of playing the next season in the first division.
"That was our weekend," proclaimed coach Peter Neururer after the victory. But can this coming weekend also be Bochum's?
Bochum have had reason to hold their heads high the last four match days
Their opponent is Bayern Munich: a team that is steamrolling to a record-setting 19th Bundesliga title; a team that will be playing for their 12th German Cup; a team whose mere presence near the top of the standings makes most sides stumble, such as Schalke and Stuttgart last week.
Historically, not much speaks for Bochum -- they have won one time in 29 matches on the road against Bayern. But four weeks ago, not many people gave them a chance to be one point back of 15th place.
Another difficult task for Schalke
Ralf Rangnick's Royal Blues have conceded the championship to Bayern. Title visions, so vivid a month ago, are now merely pipe dreams. Captain and goalkeeper blame it on "egos" that have come to the fore again, he told Sport Bild magazine.
No matter the reason, the goal of reaching the Champions League is top priority. Yet the hellish schedule continues, as they must travel to top-form Hertha Berlin (50 points). Berlin have been riding a wave of success since the middle of the first leg, thanks greatly to Brazilian midfielder Marcelinho. He has produced key goals and set up key strikes that have made Falko Götz' squad a force to contend with.
Hertha lie in fifth place, and their four remaining matches after this Saturday cannot be described as difficult -- a very good position to play in Europe next season.
After an embarrassing loss to a Rostock side on the brink of relegation, third-place Stuttgart must also no longer play with the thought of competing for the championship. Defender Markus Babbel had warned of letting up against the weaker teams, but his warning fell on deaf ears. His comment to Sport Bild this week: "We are a team that needs a kick in the pants."
Rostock, white, took the air out of Stuttgart's sails, winning 2-1
Let last week's loss be a warning because until the last match of the season, against Bayern, they face a stream of mediocre competition. Wolfsburg had been on top of the standings for eight weeks in the first leg. During that stretch, the Wolves drubbed Stuttgart, 3-0. Now the Wolves lie in the middle of the pack. A chance for revenge. And with some luck they can pull ahead of Schalke.
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