Bayern seek to stay on title course in somber atmosphere
BERLIN: Bayern Munich will need to put the disappointment of losing midweek in the Champions League behind them to keep on course for the Bundesliga crown as German football reels from Tuesday’s attack on Borussia Dortmund’s team bus.
Bayern, on the cusp of a fifth successive title, are away to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday as they seek to maintain a 10-point lead at the top of the standings and move closer to securing the championship well before the close of the campaign.
But both Bayern and Dortmund were beaten at home in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, just a day after three explosions went off as the Dortmund bus made its way to their match against AS Monaco.
There is little doubt that the attack had an impact on the German performances and there is likely to be a somber, if defiant, atmosphere at grounds around the country at the weekend.
“Of course the events in Dortmund and the consequences of the attack were shocking for the clubs of the Bundesliga. We have great confidence in the work of security agencies in football matches and in the activities of the investigative authorities,” German football league chief executive officer Christian Seifert said.
Bayern, seeking a seventh victory from their last eight league games, are effectively three wins away from taking the title but it could come earlier if they keep winning and second placed RB Leipzig stumble.
But Bayern’s immediate focus is likely on next Tuesday’s return leg at Real Madrid where they will hope to pull off an unlikely comeback from the 2-1 defeat in Munich.
Injured leading scorer Robert Lewandowski and international defender Mats Hummels will sit out again at the weekend in a bid to be ready for the second leg, coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
"We have six days, I think they can recover by then," he said.
Leipzig will make sure of securing a first Champions League berth if they beat Freiburg on Saturday, although their opponents also have aspirations of a place in European club competition next season, having moved up to sixth on the back of victories in their last two matches.
Hoffenheim are third, one point above Dortmund, and also looking to consolidate Champions League participation by beating Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.
Dortmund’s ability to bounce back from the shock of the bus attack and the subsequent 3-2 loss to Monaco will be closely watched as they host Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
One piece of positive news, according to German media, is the likelihood that coach Thomas Tuchel, who has been linked to a bevy of clubs elsewhere in Europe, is expected to sign a contract extension in the next days.