Mainz-Bayern Munich Preview: Bavarians can clinch Bundesliga title

Bayern Munich could secure the Bundesliga title this weekend – but they will have to beat Mainz to stand a chance of doing so.

Pep Guardiola’s men hold a staggering 23-point lead at the top of the table with just nine games remaining, meaning it is almost certainly a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ they will be crowned champions.

And it could be this weekend that Bayern confirm the successful defence of the title they won back from Borussia Dortmund last season.

A victory against Champions League hopefuls Mainz will see Guardiola lift the trophy in his debut season at the Allianz Arena, as long as Dortmund and Schalke fail to win their games.

But with Jens Keller’s men hosting bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig and Dortmund travelling to mid-table Hannover, even a win this weekend may not be enough to celebrate another championship triumph just yet.

Last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen saw Bayern extend their unbeaten league run to 50 games, while the last side to defeat Guardiola’s charges in any competition were Manchester City in the Champions League on December 10 – which was 15 matches ago.

Bayern were given a further lift on Wednesday when winger Arjen Robben signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2017.

The visitors can expect a tricky test against a Mainz side sitting fifth in the table and still in with a shout of a top-two finish.

Thomas Tuchel’s charges have lost just once in their past 11 Bundesliga outings and have not tasted defeat at the Coface Arena since a 3-1 reverse to Dortmund back in November.

The coach was in philosophical mood as his side prepare to take on a Bayern outfit who have won 17 Bundesliga matches in a row.

“If the little one wants to beat the great, then he does not do well in the classroom of the great, he lures him into a dark corner,” he told the club’s official website.

“We want to provide them with tasks. If they solve them, then we go over there and congratulate. Then nobody will be ashamed of us.”

Mainz have conceded just once on home turf in the past four games but have struggled for goals all season – their tally of 37 is only the 11th best in the division, and just half of the total achieved by Bayern.

Cameroon international Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been in impressive form of late, though, scoring four times in his past five appearances, and Bayern will need to be mindful of his threat if they are to kick off their title celebrations.

The hosts will be hoping for a change in fortunes from the reverse fixture in October, when Mainz led at the break through Shawn Parker, only for Bayern to roar back in the second half and eventually run out 4-1 winners.

Shaqiri open to Liverpool & Man Utd offers, says agent

The out-of-favour Bayern Munich wideman is considering moving on from the European champions in search of regular first team football, putting Premier League clubs on alert

Bayern Munich wideman Xherdan Shaqiri would be open to a move to Liverpool or Manchester United should they make an offer, his agent has revealed.

The Switzerland international has found regular first team football hard to come by since joining the European champions in 2012 and is keen to seek out opportunities elsewhere.

His brother and representative, Erdin, told Swiss newspaper Blick: “Xherdan is 22. At that age he has to play regularly, which is not the case at the moment.

“We will wait til the summer. If then clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United or Inter will ask, we will surely listen.”

Liverpool have actively been on the prowl for another wide attacker, failing with January moves for Yehven Konoplyanka and Mohammed Salah, while David Moyes has not been shy about his desire to mould the United squad to his own taste.

Shaqiri faces tough competition from the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller to break into Pep Guardiola’s starting XI and has previously talked of the temptation of moving on, as Goal exclusively revealed last Sunday.

Robben dreaming of 'beautiful season'

The winger signed a two-year contract extension on Wednesday and wants more success with the Bavarians, while team-mate Toni Kroos is excited by Friday’s Champions League draw

Bayern Munich could retain their Bundesliga crown in record time this weekend, with Arjen Robben determined to ensure a “beautiful” end to the season at the Allianz Arena.

Should the Bavarians beat Mainz and Schalke and Borussia Dortmund drop points then Pep Guardiola’s side will set a new league record by becoming the earliest champions in German history.

Bayern will also find out who they will face in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Friday having sealed their spot in the last eight with a two-legged victory over Arsenal.

Robben, 30, signed a two-year contract extension with the club on Thursday, which ties him to the club until 2017, and revealed his continued thirst for silverware under Pep Guardiola.

“Until now it has been a great season, but we want to make her more beautiful,” the Netherlands international told reporters on Thursday.

“There are eight top teams in the pot for the Champions League so I really don’t have a favourite opponent.”

Robben was joined by team-mate Toni Kroos at Thursday’s press conference and the midfielder – who continues to be linked with a summer move to Manchester United – gave his thoughts on the prospect of sealing back-to-back Bundesliga titles.

“For us it doesn’t matter when we are champions,” he said. “It is important we stay in the rhythm and not let up in any game.

He added: “This year we have the eight top teams in Europe in the quarter-finals and I’m looking forward to two great games.” 

Dortmund no longer on par with Bayern, says Muller

The Germany international hopes BVB can return to their usual best again in the years to come and has admitted that Louis van Gaal was vital to his career

Thomas Muller feels Borussia Dortmund are no longer on the same level as Bayern Munich following their disappointing performances both last season and this campaign.

BVB finished 25 points behind Bayern in the Bundesliga table last term, while they are trailing Pep Guardiola’s men by 23 points this year after previously winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.

“Dortmund are no longer on par with Bayern, but are now team that can make life difficult for us. At some point, Dortmund were the team that spurred us on to improve,” Muller was quoted as saying by Abendzeitung.

“It is important that the situation changes again. I don’t think things will always be like this, where we could be crowned Bundesliga champions as early as March.

“Things will get tighter at the top again.”

Muller then went on to discuss his special relationship with Louis van Gaal and admitted that the Dutchman has played a big role in his career.

“Van Gaal is a special kind of guy, a special person. He has been very important to my career. We had a special relationship during his time at Bayern.”

Van Gaal coached Bayern between 2009 and 2011.

Guardiola is unique, insists Pizarro

The experienced attacker has hailed the former Barcelona boss’ unique style of work following his impressive start at the Allianz Arena

Claudio Pizarro has taken the time to praise Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola’s philosophy and feels the Spaniard’s style of work is unlike any other trainer he has ever worked with.

Guardiola replaced Jupp Heynckes at the helm of the Bavarians at the start of the 2013-14 campaign and he has impressed his players with his eye for details and meticulous preparation for matches.

“I obviously knew about the titles he won at Barcelona and I heard a lot about him before he arrived. We knew we were getting a great coach,” Pizarro told the official Bayern website.

“Now we’ve been working with him for nearly a year and we can see why he’s so great.

“His philosophy of football, his system, the way he analyses opponents and the way he prepares us for games.

“The focused way he works is unique.”

Bayern are unbeaten under Guardiola in the Bundesliga, while they have also reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the semi-final of the DFB Pokal.