Berlin - FC Bayern München's not-so-long wait to wrap up their 23rd Bundesliga title will come to an end if they beat Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion on Tuesday evening (kick-off 19:00 GMT/20:00 CET).
'No foregone conclusion'
Victories for Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 26 kept the champagne on ice - temporarily at least - for Pep Guardiola's team, but a Bavarian victory in the capital will put the seal on a 24th national crown and make Bayern the first ever side to lift the Meisterschale in March.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Guardiola is taking nothing for granted - despite having seen his team win their last 18 Bundesliga encounters. "The sooner we win the league, the better," said the former FC Barcelona coach at his pre-match press conference, "but it's no foregone conclusion that we'll win it tomorrow. We can win it against Hoffenheim and we can win it in Augsburg - we still have plenty of time."
The Catalan refused to be drawn on potential post-match celebrations, choosing instead to focus on the task at hand. "It's my job to make sure the players are ready for the game. If they are, we might have time to celebrate afterwards. It's just another game, against Hertha. Of course we'll win the Bundesliga, but we have a game to play on Tuesday and we have to play well. For me, the Bundesliga's the most important title."
Guardiola once again has a full squad of players to choose from. "Thiago [Alcantara] is doing much better," said Guardiola of his midfield star, who missed Saturday's victory over Mainz with a thigh injury. "He's going to see how he does today, but everyone else is fit."
Hertha coach Jos Luhukay also has no new injury concerns ahead of Tuesday’s clash, but centre-back Sebastian Langkamp will miss the game through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in Hertha's 3-0 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday. John Anthony Brooks, Levan Kobiashvili and Christoph Janker are all in contention to replace the 26-year-old.
Despite collecting just two points from their last four league matches, Hertha can take confidence from their last meeting with the record titleholders: Luhukay’s team ended up on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 10, but they gave their hosts a good run for their money and were perhaps unfortunate not to get something from the game. "It's important I pick a team that can come close to reproducing that performance," Luhukay said on Monday.
"They deserve to be [on the verge of winning the title]," added the Dutchman. "They're a team that have worked hard for their success. They go into each game incredibly focused and I have huge respect for that. It's incredible what they've managed to achieve in the Bundesliga this season and they've earned their chance to be crowned champions on Tuesday. We have to try and make a game of it."
Hertha: Kraft - Pekarik, Janker, Brooks, J. van den Bergh - Hosogai, Skjelbred - Allagui, Ronny, Ben-Hatira - Ramos
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, J. Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Robben, Götze, Ribery - T. Müller
Check out the highlights of Bayern's latest victory on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: