/Hamburg go to Bayern at worst time

Hamburg go to Bayern at worst time

Berlin (dpa) – When SV Hamburg looked at the fixture list a few weeks back, they would have been pleasantly surprised to see they faced Bayern Munich just days before the German champions had a Champions League last 16 second leg.

Maybe Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes would rest a few top names with the crucial European game on his mind.

Instead the complete opposite might happen. Bayern are already 5-0 up from the Champions League first leg with Besiktas so could play a full team at home to Hamburg on Saturday and rest top names in Turkey on Wednesday.

Bayern, who top the Bundesliga by 20 points and could seal the title this month, want to wrap up their sixth straight championship as soon as possible so they can concentrate on trickier rounds of the Champions League and the German Cup semi-final at Bayer Leverkusen.

A treble, just like in Heynckes’ last stint in charge in 2013, is very much on and second-bottom Hamburg are just in the way.

“Our players need to stay healthy and fit and show more than their normal form,” Heynckes told Sport Bild this week about the chances of a treble.

“The players have to be even more motivated, more passionate, everyone has to fight for each other. If we can coax all of that out, we have a chance.”

Even if Heynckes decides to give star striker Robert Lewandowski another rest as he did for the 4-0 success at Freiburg last week, the man who takes his place will be extra eager to shine.

Sandro Wagner scored against Freiburg and is desperate for more goals.

There is increasing speculation in the German media that he is in a two-way fight with VfB Stuttgart’s Mario Gomez for the spare striker berth behind Timo Werner for the Germany World Cup squad.

Hamburg, seven points adrift of safety with nine games left, are in for a tough time and Thursday’s removal of chairman Heribert Bruchhagen and sporting director Jens Todt suggests they are already planning for the second tier.

The Bundesliga weekend kicks off with third-bottom Mainz, battling to get out of the relegation play-off spot, hosting second-placed Schalke on Friday.

“Towards the end of the season these sorts of teams are particularly dangerous. They produce displays you didn’t know they were capable of,” said Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco.

He hopes midfielder Leon Goretzka and defender Thilo Kehrer can feature after injury.

Bayern v Hamburg is a standout fixture in Saturday’s main programme of matches along with Bayer Leverkusen against Borussia Moenchengladbach, with the tussle for the Champions League places extremely tight.

Hoffenheim also welcome Wolfsburg on Saturday with Hertha Berlin facing Freiburg and Hanover entertaining Augsburg.

On Sunday, Borussia Dortmund in third take on fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt in another big battle for the top four spots while RB Leipzig, three points behind Frankfurt in sixth, are also in the fight as they visit VfB Stuttgart.

There is also a Monday game on the schedule with bottom side Cologne travelling to a Werder Bremen side not yet safe. Cologne are eight points from safety and defeat would end almost all hope of survival.