Bundesliga - Bayern launch last-ditch title challenge

Thu, 24 Feb 11:03:00 2011

Champions Bayern Munich launch a last-ditch Bundesliga title offensive on Saturday against runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund, brimming with confidence following their Champions League win over Internazionale.

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Bayern gained some revenge for last season's 2-0 loss to the Italian champions in the final when they stunned them with a last-minute Mario Gomez goal to win their round of 16 first leg 1-0 in Italy on Wednesday.

But catching up with Dortmund, who are 10 points ahead of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen and 13 from Bayern, in the remaining 11 games of the season will be a mighty ask.

"Normally after such a win we would say 'boys, enjoy it, enjoy the moment. But this Saturday we face the leading team and we want to win that game," said club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

"So it is little celebration and lots of concentration."

Defeat against visiting Dortmund would spell the end of Bayern's slim title hopes while victory could see their lead over Bayern cut to 10 with 10 games left.

"Dortmund will be more difficult than Inter," said Bayern coach Louis van Gaal, who won the domestic double in his first season in charge last year.

"We will be carrying the Inter game in our legs when we take on Dortmund and that makes it harder for us," said van Gaal.

"But if our president says we must win it, then we have to do it," said Van Gaal after club boss Uli Hoeness predicted a win for Bayern.

The Dutch coach will have a full squad to draw on after injuries plagued his team for much of the season.

Wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have now won all three games they have played together this season after returning from injury and they look to be hitting top form.

Forward Gomez is also enjoying a stellar season with 18 goals in the league and another seven in the Champions League, dispersing any thoughts of another bad season at Bayern for the league's most expensive transfer.

Dortmund could be without goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, who injured knee ligaments in training. He has kept 11 clean sheets in the league and allowed in only 13 goals this season.

Weidenfeller could be replaced by 22-year-old Australian Mitchell Langerak. Central defender Neven Subotic, however, will be back following a one-match suspension.

Leverkusen will be looking to benefit from any stumble by Dortmund when they take on struggling Werder Bremen.

Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf could be on his way out after 12 years if his team, who are anchored in 14th place just a point above the relegation playoff spot, fails to win for the sixth straight game.

Reuters

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