The New Champions
It may not have been their most convincing performance of the season, but that was of little import to FC Bayern Munich after Bastian Schweinsteiger's brilliant backheeler earned them the three points at Eintracht Frankfurt which expanded their record Bundesliga title haul to 22 - and in record time to boot. Never before in the 50-year history of Germany's national top flight have a team wrapped up the championship as early as Matchday 28. Despite having already achieved their stated number one season target, Jupp Heynckes's troops have neither the opportunity nor the inclination to rest on their laurels quite yet, however. Alongside the prospect of racking up a few more all-time Bundesliga best-marks by the end of the campaign, there is also the small matter of maintaining the pursuit of ultimate glory in the DFB Cup - and the Champions League.
It is going to be a decidedly tense affair when Schalke 04 play host to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the late Saturday kick-off. Five wins in their last six Bundesliga outings have taken the Royal Blues to within four points of their third-place visitors and victory in this one would leave them with their sights firmly fixed on a coveted group stage berth in the Champions League - one which Bayer seemed to have firmly in their grasp not so long ago. Just two victories over the same time frame, however, has left them in danger of letting slip a golden opportunity - while conversely a win, or even a share of the spoils at the Veltins Arena, would be the perfect tonic to help the Werkselfdown the final season straight. This will be a true test of mettle for two sides with their eyes on the same prize.
3 Minutes with...
...Benedikt Höwedes. The Schalke skipper will once again have a vital role to play against a Leverkusen side with one of the most fluid attacking games in the country, but Höwedes is no stranger to the big occasion. Working his way up through the youth ranks and reserves to claim a regular first-team starting berth by 2009, the all-action central defender - and occasional full back - went on to make his first appearance for Germany in 2011 and has been a squad stalwart ever since. Ahead of the big game with Bayer, the indispensable Höwedes took time out to shoot the breeze with GOAL!