Eyes on the prize: Bayern could be crowned Bundesliga champions for the 23rd time at Mainz on Saturday afternoon
Eyes on the prize: Bayern could be crowned Bundesliga champions for the 23rd time at Mainz on Saturday afternoon

Bayern's red-letter day draws near in Mainz

Mainz - FC Bayern München could secure their 23rd Bundesliga crown (24th national title) with victory over 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday (kick-off 14:30 GMT/ 15:30 CET).

'We've won a lot of games'

The Bavarians took last season's Meisterschale with six matches to spare, but this time that number could rise to a record-breaking eight, provided nearly-rans Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 fail to beat Hannover 96 and Eintracht Braunschweig respectively.

"Let me win the Bundesliga title first and then I'll tell you what it feels like," joked Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola, whose predatory ensemble hold an incontestable 23-point advantage over second-placed BVB with nine games still to play. "It's strange to have such a big lead in the table," the Catalan continued. "It's not normal, but we've won a lot of games."

That's putting it mildly: der Rekordmeister have, in fact, won their last 17 league outings on the bounce, extending their unbeaten domestic run to an unheard-of 50 matches and smashing a whole host of historic best-marks in the process. In truth, lifting the iconic Bundesliga plate for the second-successive season has long been a formality.

'It doesn't matter when'

"It’s out of our hands, not that it matters when we win it," explained one of the unsung heroes of Guardiola's debut season at the Bayern helm, midfielder Toni Kroos. "The important thing is not to ease off in any match. We have to maintain our focus. Mainz are very flexible. They change their formation and tactics more than any other team."

Kroos has every reason to be wary after fifth-placed Mainz moved to within three points of the top four with victory over 1899 Hoffenheim last weekend. What's more, Thomas Tuchel's men have tasted defeat just once in their last 11 Bundesliga outings and have not been beaten at the Coface Arena since losing 3-1 to Dortmund on Matchday 14.

'We can win it'

"I'm not making any assumptions," admitted FCB winger Arjen Robben, having yesterday put pen to paper on a new deal that will keep him at the club until June 2017. "It's always been tough in Mainz. They have a good coach, plenty of spirit and lots of passion. We just have to stay focused on our game."

Tuchel's musings were a touch more philosophical, meanwhile, with the Krumbach native perhaps drawing on the work of some of Germany's finest intellectuals when he said, "If the little one wants to beat the great one, you have to lure them into a dark place," before adding, "We'll do whatever we can to prevent a Munich title party on our home ground. We believe we can win it."

Possible line-ups:

Mainz: Karius - Pospech, Bell, Noveski, Junior Diaz - Geis, Park - N. Müller, Moritz, Choupo-Moting - Okazaki

Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Javi Martinez, Dante, Alaba - Schweinsteiger, T. Kroos - Robben, T. Müller, Ribery - Mandzukic

Christopher Mayer-Lodge

Click here to find your local broadcaster for this match.

Check out what happened between these two met in a memorable contest back in 2009 on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: