Lahm relishing Bayern’s ‘decisive’ week as they target title No.4

Crucial back-to-back games at top of Bundesliga table this week

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 February, 2016, 11:12am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 February, 2016, 11:12am

Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm is relishing what he describes as a “decisive week” for the Bundesliga leaders in their bid for an historic fourth straight league title.

Bayern are eight points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who they play away next Saturday in a top-of-the-table clash for Pep Guardiola’s Bavarians, the second of two tough back-to-back league games in the coming week.

Bayern host fifth-placed Mainz on Wednesday, then travel to Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park to play their nearest rivals in Germany’s ‘Der Klassiker’.

Lahm says the aim is beat Mainz, then win at Dortmund to travel home with at least an 11-point advantage to put the Bavarians in pole position for a fourth straight title with nine games left.

“I think it will be a decisive week in the title race,” said Lahm.

“If we manage to win both of our next games then we can definitely talk about the championship, but we still have a long way to go.

“We’ve still got a few games after this week, but if we win our next two then it’ll be very difficult to catch us.

“But first we need to beat Mainz and Dortmund. We can take a huge step forward.”

Two years ago, Bayern set the record for the earliest German league title win at the end of March – with seven games left – but Lahm says they are not focusing on setting a date to win the title by.

“No, at the moment our aim is to travel to Dortmund with an eight-point lead,” he said.

“We want to win there, which would give us an 11-point advantage and that would be a key moment in deciding the championship race.”

Bayern are still without a fit centre-back in their squad, but Medhi Benatia is working his way back while Mario Goetze is close to making his return after a persistent leg injury.

Mainz have won four of their last five games with attacking midfielder Yunus Malli as their top scorer with ten goals, two of which came in Sunday’s 3-1 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen.

Wolfsburg are at bottom side Hanover on Tuesday without goal-scoring defender Naldo, who is set to miss the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder in Saturday’s defeat to Bayern and needs an operation.

Wolfsburg are short of defenders with Sebastian Jung out for the rest of the season with torn knee ligaments while Timm Klose was sold to Norwich City in the January winter break.

It means Robin Knoche will partner Dante at centre-back with Hanover having broken their eight-game losing streak last Saturday as Japan midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake created both goals in their shock 2-1 win at Stuttgart.

Second-placed Dortmund are at Darmstadt on Wednesday hoping to have captain Mats Hummels back from a hip injury which kept him out of their 3-1 fightback win over Hoffeneheim on Sunday.