For long suffering Bayern fans and players, this trophy will break a duck of three years. Bayern was last presented with the shield on 8th May 2010, more than three years ago from the upcoming Saturday. There will be confetti, there will be beer (Paulaner perhaps) and there will be tears. However, there is a reason Bayern has to give it their all in this match. Augsburg, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Hoffenheim are battling for fifteenth spot. And the way Bayern plays could affect the race.
The Relegation Battle
When Jos Luhukay left after Augsburg guaranteed safety last season, there were serious fears about the future of the club. The first half of the season proved that those fears were indeed legitimate; Augsburg looked a sure bet for relegation under the inexperienced, at least in terms of Bundesliga management experience, Markus Weinzierl. The former Jahn Regensburg coach has Bavarian connections. He spent four years with Bayern II and a further one with the senior side. He made no appearances for the senior side nonetheless.
In the second half of the season, Augsburg and Weinzierl managed to turn things around for this club. However, unfortunately, in the past few games, Augsburg has experienced yet another dip in form. They lost four of their previous six games, including one against Freiburg last week 2-0. Augsburg is currently in sixteenth spot. They can guarantee at least a playoff for survival with a win. The Bavarians are only behind Fortuna Düsseldorf on goal difference. On the other hand, they are only two points ahead of seventeenth placed Hoffenheim.
Bayern and Augsburg already met twice this season; both, suffice to say, were fierce affairs. Bayern won out both times of course. The first match ended 0-2 in favor of the Bavarians. The second took place in the Pokal and saw the same ending. The first was decided by goals from Thomas Müller and Mario Gomez. In the second clash, Bayern went down a man when they were up by a goal, scored by none other than Gomez. Franck Ribery lost his temper in the second half and was dismissed. A late goal by super sub Xherdan Shaqiri settled the contest.
Bayern and Jupp Heynckes' Fairytale
As Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement, another interesting story occurred in Bavaria. Jupp Heynckes, looking almost as strong as he did in his playing days, marked his 68th birthday. On Saturday, he will become the oldest coach in the history of the Bundesliga to lift the ugly salad bowl. Indeed, this victory is a personal milestone for Heynckes. In what could be his final season in German football, he has shown that he has the strength to bounce back; virtually everything went wrong for him last season but he came back stronger and fresher. He grew as a coach despite his age. Jupp Heynckes, no matter who tells you what, is no old man.
What team will he select for this one? Rafinha will not feature in the Bundesliga for Bayern this season after picking up a red card against Dortmund last week. Bayern played very well against Dortmund and rescued a draw with ten men. Manuel Neuer, who is set to lift his first Bundesliga shield at the age of 27, had a day to remember as he made some excellent saves including a penalty from Robert Lewandowski.
Holger Badstuber and Toni Kroos are still out for Bayern. Jerome Boateng is suspended. Koo Ja Cheol could be out for Augsburg along with Sebastian Langkamp. This will probably be the starting line up for Bayern:
Luiz Gustavo- Javier Martinez
Thomas Müller- Xherdan Shaqiri- David Alaba
Everyone associated with Bayern München is set for an emotional day. No matter what happens in the upcoming finals, Bayern will at least have one trophy to their name this season. This team has had a truly special season; no champion in history including the Bayern of the 70's is a more worthy winner of the Bundesliga title than the current crop. They have broken many records and are looking to break more.
Congratulations, Bayern München!! Thank you for a wonderful, memorable and most importantly, calm season!
And as usual, thanks for reading!