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Bayern, Dortmund push for title on final day

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Bayern, Dortmund push for title on final day

●All eyes on Kovac

 

You can forgive Bayern Munich for being little out of practice. After all, the last time the Bundesliga title race went down to the final day was back in 2010 when they ended up five points clear of Schalke. Typically by this stage of the season, Bayern players’ thoughts have already turned to which beach they’re going to lie on as the summer stretches out before them.

Their six consecutive Bundesliga titles since 2012-13 have been won by margins of 25, 19, 10, 10, 15 and 21 points. So final day drama usually doesn’t even come close to entering Bayern’s thinking. Not this time. A fraught Saturday afternoon lies in store at the Allianz Arena as Bayern are pushed right to the finish line by their rivals Borussia Dortmund.

On paper, Bayern, who enter the 34th round of fixtures with a two-point lead and a vastly superior goal difference, should overcome Eintracht Frankfurt at home and win a 29th German league title. But Dortmund, who topped the table right through the autumn and winter months, travel to Borussia Monchengladbach ready to capitalise on any slip-up.

The odds appear heavily stacked in Bayern’s favour but there has been a shakiness about them this season that hasn’t been seen for a long time. It’s why chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wasn’t exactly reassuring when it came to talking about the future of manager Niko Kovac, whose first season at the helm has been a baptism of fire.

‘I constantly hear the word job guarantee,’ said Rummenigge. ‘I am not a fan of job guarantees and I do not just want to praise the coach and the players. ‘At the end of the day players, management and of course the coach at Bayern must deliver. We have to make sure that success is as continuous as it has been in the past 20 or 30 years.’ Given that Dortmund were nine points ahead of Bayern at one stage – with their open-top bus victory parade already planned – Kovac has done well to turn things around. But the reality is that Bayern are so accustomed to not only winning domestic silverware, but winning that silverware in dominant fashion, that this season has set alarm bells ringing.

Though they will have the chance to win the Double when they take on RB Leipzig in the German Cup final on May 25, this is now considered the baseline each season for Bayern given the yawning gulf between themselves and the others. They regressed in the Champions League, losing 3-1 at home to Liverpool having drawn 0-0 at Anfield in the last-16, which would have come as a crushing disappointment despite Liverpool subsequently making the final. And unfortunately for Kovac, those domestic win just haven’t been as emphatic as it was under Jupp Heynckes, Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti. It was left to Kovac to try and offer some context: ‘In the winter we hoped to have the chance on the last match day to win the title. Now we have it and we want to use it.’ Or as striker Thomas Muller put it: ‘If we had this situation in winter, that we could seal it with a win at home against Frankfurt, we would have signed for it straight away.’ It seems inevitable that Kovac will lose his job if Bayern don’t win the title on Saturday, but speculation remains that he might be dismissed.

 

●Culled from allfootball.com

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