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Buoyant Bayern look to 'snuff out' league rivals
Published : 25 Nov 2011 01:16:40
Having secured their berth in the Champions League's knockout phase, Bayern Munich are looking to re-establish their authority in the German league this weekend.
Bayern's 3-1 win over Villarreal on Tuesday confirmed their place in the round of 16, but they need to get back to winning ways in the Bundesliga after taking just one point from their last two games.
Munich are at strugglers Mainz on Sunday, having had their lead at the top of the table trimmed to just two points after drawing at minnows Augsburg and then losing at home to Borussia Dortmund last Saturday.
"We need to snuff out our rivals' new-found hopes and, starting with our next match, demonstrate our intention to march away at the front," urged Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos.
Just three points separate Bayern at the top and Schalke in fourth position.
Second-placed Dortmund host Gelsenkirchen-based Schalke on Saturday, with the defending champions having taken 19 points from a possible 21 in their last seven league games.
Dortmund have not beaten Schalke at home since May 2007 and after their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal on Wednesday all but ended their Champions League hopes, the champions want to get one over on their neighbours.
Mario Goetze, the match-winner at Bayern, is struggling with a knee injury after coming off in the first half against Arsenal, while Sven Bender is definitely out after breaking his jaw in London.
Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen are only 40km apart and this will be the 139th derby between the clubs.
"The derby is what you look forward to. This is the most important game of the year," said Schalke's director of sport, Horst Heldt.
Schalke are also in form, having hammered Nuremberg 4-0 last weekend with Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring twice to leave him with 12 goals from 12 league games.
"We will win because we are the better team," predicted Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
For Dortmund forward Kevin Grosskreutz, who was born and raised in the city and used to have a season ticket to watch his home-town club, Schalke must be beaten.
"This is the most important game of the year. I know what this game means to the fans. We will do everything to win it," said Grosskreutz.
As Schalke coach Huub Stevens points out, Dortmund will have the exertions from Arsenal still in their legs, while Schalke lead the derby record with 55 victories, compared to Dortmund's 46 and 37 draws in total.
Borussia Moenchengladbach, third in the league after hammering Werder Bremen 5-0 last Saturday, are at Cologne on Friday.
Bayer Leverkusen, buoyed by a 2-1 comeback win at home to Chelsea on Wednesday that took them into the Champions League last 16, are at Hertha Berlin.
Cologne v Borussia Moenchengladbach
Saturday (1430GMT unless otherwise stated):
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04, Nuremberg v Kaiserslautern, Hoffenheim v Freiburg, Augsburg v VfL Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin v Bayer Leverkusen, Hanover 96 v Hamburg (1730GMT)
Werder Bremen v VfB Stuttgart (1430GMT), Mainz 05 v Bayern Munich (1630GMT)