Bayern Munich set for march title jig

AFP, Monday 24 Feb 2014

Bayern Munich
Bayern's Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland, left, and Claudio Pizarro celebrate after scoring during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and SC Freiburg in Munich, Germany, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Bayern Munich are on course to break yet another Bundesliga record by being crowned German champions in March after opening a 19-point lead at the top of the table.

The European champions' 4-0 win at Hanover 96 on Sunday extended their record unbeaten league run to 47 matches and was their 14th consecutive Bundesliga victory, just one short of their own league record set in 2005.

If Bayern maintain their massive points lead, they will have their 24th German league title confirmed at the latest by March 29 when they host Hoffenheim at Munich's Allianz Arena.

Bayern won last season's title in April with a record six games to spare, a mark the current team is on course to at least equal, but no team has ever been confirmed as Bundesliga champions in March.

Bayern can even extend their points lead as they face top five sides Schalke, Wolfsburg and Leverkusen in the coming weeks.

Having broken or equalled 25 Bundesliga records last season when they won the title by 25 points, Pep Guardiola's team are set to send more best marks tumbling, such as the fewest goals conceded 18) having only leaked nine so far.

Bayern's seemingly unstoppable march to the title has partly been helped by rivals Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke who between them collected just a single point over the weekend.

"We are in a rhythm and want to stay in that rhythm," said Bayern's director of sport Matthias Sammer after they dominated Hanover.

"We had seen the others' results and knew that we could extend our lead, which we wanted to do. We have a good dynamic in the team. And so we go on!"

Bayern are on the verge of Champions League's quarter-finals after their 2-0 win at Arsenal in last Wednesday's last 16, first-leg clash and have made no secret of their desire to become the first team to defend the Champions League title.

Last Friday, coach Pep Guardiola described the Bundesliga as "pizza and burgers" compared to the "fine dining" of the Champions League and Bayern's rivals are doing little to disprove that notion by failing to dish up a decent challenge.

Bayern have dropped just four league points all season and earned their 20th win from 22 league matches this season with only October's draw at Bayer Leverkusen and their 1-1 at Freiburg last August as the only blots on their otherwise impeccable copybook.

"I'm thrilled," said Bayern's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer. "The way they take their chances with ice-cold precision is top class."

Having won 14 titles in four years as Barcelona coach, Guardiola is determined Bayern will defend their Bundesliga title and maintain their appetite for the domestic league.

"It's difficult for the players to be focused everyday in training," he said. "I must work more, for me it's a dream to win a title with this club."

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