Munich - Sandwiched between their UEFA Champions League semi-final with FC Barcelona, FC Bayern Munich’s meeting with SC Freiburg on Saturday is more than just a tasty filling (kick-off 15:30 CET).
The talk of Europe
The Bundesliga champions' phenomenal 4-0 victory over Barca on Tuesday night was just further evidence that the record-breaking Reds are currently in a league of their own Europe-wide as well as domestically.
Combine that with Borussia Dortmund’s 4-1 humbling of Real Madrid CF, and it is clear to see why everybody is talking about the Bundesliga these days. It is therefore fitting that Bayern host a side on Saturday who could be joining them on tours around Europe next season, waving the Bundesliga flag far and wide.
Freiburg currently lie fifth in the standings and, with a win at the Allianz Arena, could move up a place and perhaps join Bayern in Europe’s elite club competition next year. However, winning in Munich or getting something off Bayern has been a tall order this term, with only three sides - Bayer 04 Leverkusen, BATE Borisov and Arsenal FC - succeeding in a total of 45 matches.
Bayern stand head and shoulders above the competition, at home and in Europe, and having equalled Borussia Dortmund’s points record of 81 for a season already, they have four games to better that and notch even more milestones. The most goals in a season (101), the fewest conceded (21), the most clean sheets (19) and the biggest ultimate margin of victory (16 points) are all well within Bayern’s sights.
And to achieve those goals, coach Jupp Heynckes has 25 players of equal stature to hand. “There is no such thing as a first team and a second team here,” he said. To that end, an entirely different side could take to the field on Saturday compared to the one which demolished Barca, yet the quality would not suffer in the slightest. “They are incredibly versatile,” recognised Freiburg’s coach Christian Streich, who is nevertheless aiming to “make things as difficult as possible for them so that they can’t show their full repertoire.”
“It’s certainly going to be an interesting game,” said Streich, whose side can count on the support of 6,000 fans inside the Allianz Arena, which is inevitably sold out once again. Interesting not only for the two teams’ fans, but also intriguing for the neutral spectator to see Bayern’s all-conquering ensemble with more and more eyes now turning to the Bundesliga.
“The Bundesliga’s presence in Europe, and the world, is clearly on the rise,” wrote the New York Times. “The narrative is shaping up for Spain to hand over the torch to Germany as the game’s next great superpower.”
Bayern: Neuer - Rafinha, van Buyten, Dante, Contento - Tymoshchuk, Luiz Gustavo - Robben, Pizarro, Shaqiri - Mandzukic
Freiburg: Baumann - Mujdza, Ginter, Diagne, Günter - Flum, Makiadi - Schmid, Caligiuri - Santini, Kruse