This time, it's entirely in their own hands: If Bayern Munich make it in 2013 by besting Eintracht Frankfurt on the road, they will be champions of Germany - regardless of how defending title-holders Dortmund fare against Augsburg. Fresh, or otherwise, from their Champions League quarter-final first leg meeting with Juventus in Munich, Jupp Heynckes's star-studded ensemble will be looking to bed down their 23rd German championship, and 22nd of the Bundesliga era, at the first opportunity. On recent form they would appear to be an odds-on bet to do so, not least on the evidence of the demolition of Hamburg. Hosts Frankfurt however tasted victory themselves again last time out at Fürth, ending a six-game winless streak. That success was enough to keep them neck-and-neck with Schalke in the battle not only for a ticket into Europe, but even a scarcely dreamt-of shot at the Champions League. This one could be a cracker!
Matchday 27 at the Allianz Arena was definitively one to move on from as swiftly as possible for Rene Adler, as the overexposed Hamburger SV custodian was left to pick the ball out of his net no less than nine times. Traumatic for any keeper, but Adler is perhaps better equipped than most to put it all in perspective: an unfortunate one-off, measured against a long and at times arduous return to the top level for the former Germany no.1. Sidelined long-term with a wearisome injury and deprived of his first-team berth at Leverkusen, he moved to Hamburg on a free transfer last summer. A virtual ever-present there from the off, a recent recall to the national squad is perhaps the most eloquent testimony to his performances for the Red Shorts since. Rene Adler is back among Germany's goalkeeping elite again.
In the second of a special three-part look at SC Freiburg, we examine the playing system introduced and still being developed by head coach Christian Streich. Having bid a hasty farewell to key players such as Heiko Butscher and goal machine Papiss Cisse, Streich with equal haste promoted and integrated a clutch of prospects well known to him from his long tenure in charge of the youth team. The likes of Jonathan Schmid, Oliver Sorg and Daniel Caligiuri are now every bit as influential in a new kind of Freiburg team - one of the hardest-running and most defensively secure in the top flight. And as the players have fused into a whole, Streich has continued to build on those foundations, urging his tactically disciplined outfit to gradually press ever higher up the pitch as a matter of policy. Could the provincial club from the fringes of the Black Forest be on the way to becoming a new power in the German game?