Bayern and Dortmund enter final straight of title battle just a point apartFootball
Bayern face resurgent Leipzig with Dortmund nipping at their heels
With two rounds of the Bundesliga season remaining, Bayern Munich face the biggest threat to their title hopes, at home against a resurgent RB Leipzig on Saturday.
One point ahead of Borussia Dortmund atop the Bundesliga table, Bayern know winning their next two games will ensure a record-extending 11th straight Bundesliga title.
While perennial bridesmaids Dortmund face a tricky trip to Augsburg, Bayern face a team who have won seven of their past eight.
Promoted for the first time before the 2016-17 season, Leipzig has since emerged as a realistic challenger for Dortmund's status as the best German team after Bayern.
Champions League semi finalists in 2019-20, Leipzig are the current German Cup holders. The Saxons have qualified for this year's final, their fourth trip to Berlin's showpiece event in the past five years.
Leipzig sit third and can guarantee Champions League football next season with a win in Munich.
Leipzig manager Marco Rose, who spent the 2021-22 season as Dortmund coach, said he knew what was at stake but was focused on his own side.
"The fact is I don't begrudge Dortmund fans from wanting to win the title, but at the end of the day it's about us."
A title race going to the final weeks is rare in the Bundesliga and it could be decided this weekend, if Bayern win and Dortmund drop points on Sunday.
Even if Leipzig manage to claim a point or better, Dortmund face an unpredictable opponent in Augsburg, who beat Bayern at home in September.
Augsburg manager Enrico Maassen, who spent several years coaching Dortmund's juniors, told German tabloid Bild said he knew how much his "old home" wanted to win the title.
"I would be happy if Dortmund became champions" Maassen said on Tuesday, but added Augsburg would "give everything" to win on Sunday.
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Bayern President Herbert Hainer promised Augsburg a truck filled with beer if they manage to take a point off Dortmund.
Maassen said "we don't have many beer drinkers in our team, but our fans would certainly be happy about it."
Fighting for a top four spot in the Premier League, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday he would "cross his fingers in front of the TV" for Dortmund to take the lead in the title race this weekend.
Klopp was at the helm the last time Dortmund won the Bundesliga back in 2011-12.
"I believe the boys can do it" Klopp told Germany's Sportbild on Tuesday. "After 11 years, the shield belongs back in Dortmund."
One to watch: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
Jude Bellingham's importance to Borussia Dortmund could be seen in Saturday's win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, when the 19-year-old was asked to take a penalty with his side leading 1-0.
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Bellingham, who played part of the second half with the captain's armband, converted the penalty, his 14th goal of the season in all competitions, and Dortmund won 5-2 to stay one point behind Bayern with two games remaining.
"It was a high-pressure moment and I thought I could handle it so I wanted to take the penalty" Bellingham said in an interview published Thursday.
"In the end, maybe I got a little lucky but if it goes in then that's all I care about."
According to Borussia Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl, more than just the German title might be at stake in his side's final two games of the season, away against Augsburg and then at home to Mainz.
"I don't see us as not having a chance" of retaining Bellingham, whose contract runs until 2025, Kehl said on Sunday.
"I believe that if we become German champions this year, it shows you are very ambitious -- and beating Bayern also sends a signal."
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8 - Dortmund's Donyell Malen has eight goals in his past eight league games. The in-form forward had scored just six in his previous 43 games.
52 - No team in Europe's five major leagues can match Dortmund's 53-goal tally in 2023, achieved in 17 games.
16 - Injured Bremen striker Niclas Fuellkrug sits atop the goalscorer list this season. If he fails to add to this tally and is not overtaken, 16 will be the lowest single-season total in Bundesliga history.
Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Freiburg v Wolfsburg (1830)
Hoffenheim v Union Berlin, Werder Bremen v Cologne, Schalke v Eintracht Frankfurt, Hertha Berlin v Bochum, Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig (1630)
Mainz v Stuttgart, Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund (1530), Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1730)