Bayern Munich's Bundesliga title bid suffered another blow as a goalless draw at home against Mainz left them eight points adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund with just three games remaining.
Playing with a weakened side ahead of their midweek UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid, Bayern looked out of sorts after their midweek defeat by Dortmund and they failed to crack a defensive-minded Mainz.
The Bavarians will now turn their attentions to Europe, while Mainz will be happy to come away with a point which takes them just one win away from guaranteed safety. With Dortmund opening up a nine-point advantage at the top of the Bundesliga earlier today, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes admitted defeat in the title race before his side had even taken to the field.
"You have got to say that they will be deserved champions," he told Sky television. "Today's game confirmed that - they are practically there."
Heynckes' team selection was a further admission of defeat in the title race and confirmation that their priorities have shifted. In preparation for Tuesday's Champions League clash at the Allianz Arena, Heynckes left captain Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery and Mario Gomez on the bench, choosing Diego Contento, Rafinha and Ivica Olic in his starting line-up.
Mainz were unable to take advantage of a weakened Bayern, though. The best chances of the first half came towards its conclusion when Anatoliy Tymoschuk rifled a shot against the base of the post. Olic then tried to lob Heinz Muller from eight yards, but did not make the best of contact with the ball and ended up just lifting it into the Mainz goalkeeper's arms.
Ribery and Gomez were both introduced in the second half and Bayern raised the tempo, showing more desire to win the game.
But they soon reduced the pace again, saving energy for Tuesday night and the most important game of their season, even though they almost snatched victory with good shots from Arjen Robben and Gomez in the last five minutes.