Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer has called on his players to rediscover their fun-loving side ahead of Saturday’s fixture against Schalke 04.
The German champions qualified for a fifth consecutive Champions League semi-final this week, and now have the chance to establish a ten point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.
Bayern have been grinding out positive results in recent weeks, but have failed to dominate games in the way they are expected to.
“I want to see more desire, more ambition and more enjoyment in our play,” said Sammer.
“The players should be thinking about what they can achieve.”
Sammer was quick to defend the Bayern players, however, arguing that Bayern are currently in a better position than the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid.
“When you look at the other top clubs in Europe, you see that they are not picking up points. We could be doing some things better, but we are getting results.”
After Borussia Dortmund were held to a draw against Schalke last weekend, Bayern now hold a seven-point lead at the top of the table.
Victory on Saturday would put them ten points clear for at least one night, with Dortmund set to play Hamburg on Sunday.
Dortmund usually fare badly against Hamburg, having picked up just four points from their last seven Bundesliga games against the northern club.
Coach Thomas Tuchel is aware that another slip-up would almost certainly spell the end of his team’s title chances.
“The most realistic scenario is that Bayern win the title,” he said. “I’m not sure if we can pull off a sensational comeback now.”
With the title race losing steam, the battle for Europe has become even more significant in the Bundesliga. Only four points separate Hertha Berlin in third and Schalke in seventh.
Surprise package Hertha have hit rocky ground in recent weeks. A 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Borussia Mönchengladbach was followed by a 2-2 draw against bottom of the table Hanover 96.
The Berliners face another tricky test on Saturday against a Hoffenheim team unbeaten in their last four. Hertha coach Pal Dardai will also be without star youngster Mitchell Weiser, who is serving a one-game suspension.
Just one point behind Hertha, Bayer Leverkusen are hoping to secure their place in the top four with a win over relegation threatened Frankfurt.
Despite a myriad of defensive injuries, Leverkusen have gone four games without conceding a goal, while Frankfurt have the third worst scoring record in the league.
Fifth placed Gladbach will be looking to break their poor run of away form in Hanover on Friday evening.
The Foals have just one point from their last five games away from home.
“If we want to finish in the top four, we have to start getting points away from home as well,” said defender Toni Jantschke.
That should be easy against Hanover. With the club nine points adrift at the foot of the table, defeat to Gladbach would see them equal a Bundesliga record of 13 home defeats in one season.
Fresh from their Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid, Wolfsburg face a Werder Bremen side desperate to haul themselves out of the bottom three.
Bremen are hoping to see star striker Claudio Pizarro return to the team after a nearly a month out injured.
Saturday will also see Augsburg host fellow relegation rivals Stuttgart, and Darmstadt welcome Ingolstadt. On Sunday, Mainz will be looking to keep their Champions League hopes alive against out of form Cologne.
Bundesliga fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Hanover 96 v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1830)
Bayer Leverkusen v E. Frankfurt, Augsburg v Stuttgart, Werder Bremen v Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Darmstadt v Ingolstadt, Bayern Munich v Schalke (1630)
Borussia Dortmund v Hamburg, Mainz v Cologne (1530)