Bayern Munich’s botched continental adventure has been a distraction for this space from the enthralling fight for places in the next season’s Uefa Champions League.
Yes, Bayern denied ‘us’ a title race in the Bundesliga. Manchester City in England, Spain’s Barcelona and PSG in France did the same.
Juventus let Napoli gain a sniff before that rout of the latter by Fiorentina slammed the door shut on Gli Azzurri. The Old Lady will be Italian Serie A champions tomorrow.
We will never know what could have been of the Bundesliga had Bayern not sacked Carlo Ancelotti and recalled Jupp Heynckes from retirement.
When life gives you lemon, you have to make lemonade, so they say. Schalke broke away with that 2-1 victory at Augsburg last Saturday.
By sealing second, the seven-time league champions freed themselves from that race that still has Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig.
On 55 points, it’s in Dortmund’s hands as they travel to Hoffenheim (52) on the final day. Leverkusen (52), who host Hannover 96, might need a favour from Dortmund.
RB Leipzig, sixth on 50 points, need so many permutations to go their way to pull off the ultimate miracle starting with victory at Hertha Berlin.
Everything to lose
Among these, it’s Dortmund with everything to lose. A draw will be sufficient to book a place in next season’ Champions League.
Considering that they are on the road, it’s not a foregone conclusion as Hoffenheim’s excellence has made coach Julian Nagelsmann one of the rising stars.
They will be on the front foot from the onset against a side whose defensive frailties have been as clear as that nagging pothole on the way home. Also, Dortmund are rattled. Last weekend’s 2-1 home loss to Mainz left the club’s sporting director Michael Zorc bitterly disappointed.
Dortmund missed the chance to seal their spot and postponed the nervousness for a further 168 hours.
“It was a performance to be ashamed of,” Zorc said at the Westfalenstadion. Peace is something Dortmund have not known in ages too.
Midfielder Sebastian Rode said that the team is fully expecting a new coach next season, hinting at an end to Peter Stoger’s spell in charge. Stoger hasn’t excelled in this fire-fighting role he undertook last December following the sacking of Peter Bosz.
Nice coach Lucien Favre has been reported to be favourite to take the Dortmund job from July 1, but the club have yet to make an official announcement.
The club, in turn, promised to punish Rode who last kicked a ball last May. This is not the kind of preparation Dortmund needed for the visit to Hoffenheim, far from ideal.
Catastrophe is written all over them A win for Hoffenheim coupled with a home victory for Leverkusen and Dortmund are plunged into crisis. Never lose Cup finals.
Bayern vs. Stuttgart (World, 4.30PM)
Hoffenheim vs. Dortmund (Premium, 4.30PM)
Schalke vs. Frankfurt (Life, 4.30PM)
Wolfsburg vs. Köln (Focus, 4.30PM)
Leverkusen vs. Hannover 96 (4.30PM)
Freiburg vs. Augsburg (4.30PM)
Hamburger vs. Gladbach (4.30PM)
Hertha Berlin vs. RB Leipzig (4.30PM)
Mainz 05 vs. Werder Bremen (4.30PM)