Munich - While FC Bayern Munich have stressed all season that they're only concerned with their own fixtures, there won't be many in the club not keeping an eye on Borussia Dortmund's earlier clash with VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.
Simply the best
If the current champions fail to win, Jupp Heynckes's side can set the record for the fastest-ever Bundesliga triumph by beating Hamburger SV in the Allianz Arena (kick-off 18.30 CET), sealing what would be a 22nd Bundesliga crown in the league’s 50-year existence.
The 2012/13 campaign is fast becoming a list of Bayern records in itself. The Reds have dropped points in just four games all season, recording 22 wins from 26 matches, scoring 69 goals and conceding just 11. Since the turn of the year they have won nine straight games to equal the records set by VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach and have opened up a 20-point advantage over Dortmund at the top of the table.
A total of 15 players in the squad have found the net this term, with three of them - and - among the league’s top goalscorers, and the team remain on course to record the highest points tally in Bundesliga history. Put simply, Bayern are not only Germany's strongest team at present - in attack and defence, at home and away - they are nation's strongest side ever.
HSV with nothing to lose
Not that anyone in the Bavarian captial is likely to underestimate their rivals from the north. Hamburg were regular sparring partners with Bayern in the past and this fixture is still considered the 'north-south duel.' Underdogs they may be, but when Hamburg get it right they can be devastating, as Matchday 21’s 4-1 mauling of Dortmund shows.
“HSV are an unpredictable side. On good days they are capable of playing some excellent football," said Heynckes. With the explosive talent of and , who has scored twice on Bayern soil in previous seasons, Heynckes' prudence is well placed.
Champagne on ice
After two seasons without silverware, the Reds could be forgiven for celebrating in style should the stars align for them this weekend. However, any festivities will be low-key in view of the next challenge on the immediate horizon.
Just 72 hours after the game, Italian giants Juventus roll into town for the first of two quarter-final games in the UEFA Champions League. “When the final whistle goes, our focus will be completely on the Juventus game,” said club chairman of the board Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Gunning for their first-ever treble, not many would expect die Münchner to rest on their laurels, regardless of Saturday’s outcome.
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Schweinsteiger, Martinez - Müller, Kroos, Ribery - Mandzukic
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Bruma, Westermann, Aogo - Badelj - Arslan, Rincon, van der Vaart - Son, Rudnevs