Germany's rising star Thomas Mueller scored a hat-trick on Saturday as Bayern Munich secured a 3-1 home win over Bochum which virtually guarantees them this season's Bundesliga title. With second-placed Schalke 04 losing 2-0 at home to Werder Bremen, the Royal Blues now trail Bayern by three points in the league while Munich have a vastly superior goal difference with just one game left each.
Schalke now need Bayern to lose their final game at bottom side Hertha Berlin and make up more than 17 goals with a victory over Mainz when the season finishes next Saturday. It means Bayern's Dutch coach Louis van Gaal will win the Bundesliga title in his first season in charge with his side still on course for the treble of German League, German Cup and Champions League titles.
The Dutchman can also now add the Bundesliga title to the La Liga crown he won with Barcelona in Spain and last season's Dutch league with AZ Alkmaar. "The board of directors told me a year ago that this is the most important title to win: now we have achieved it, I am very proud," said van Gaal. "This means a lot to me. I don't think there are many coaches in Europe who have won championship titles in three countries. We played the best football I have seen in this arena for 20 to 25 minutes. Then we heard what happened at Schalke."
Bayern were 2-0 up after just 20 minutes as 20-year-old Mueller did his World Cup chances the power of good with two goals in as many first-half minutes before completing his hat-trick on 69 minutes. After Ivica Olic scored a hat-trick in Bayern's 3-0 win at Lyon last Tuesday to put them in the Champions League final, Mueller stole the limelight with three goals of his own at Munich's Allianz Arena.
A Philipp Lahm cross found Mueller unmarked in front of goal and the ball went in off his chest on 18 minutes. Just two minutes later, Lahm linked up with Franck Ribery and the Frenchman's volley was headed home by Mueller. Mueller then grabbed his third when captain Mark van Bommel played him into area and he drilled his shot in the top left-hand corner on 69 minutes, before Bochum pulled back a late consolation goal.
Schalke and Stuttgart stumble
Schalke coach Felix Magath's dream of winning the German league with three different teams is on ice for another year as the Royal Blues lost at home to Bremen. Third-placed Bremen took a 1-0 lead when Germany midfielder Mesut Oezil hit a left-footed shot just after half-time. The guests then played a big part in deciding the title will go to Munich when striker Hugo Almeida scored on 64 minutes to make it 2-0.
Stuttgart's chances of a top five finish to claim a European spot for next season suffered a blow when they were held 2-2 at home by Mainz as Romanian striker Ciprian Marica rescued them with two second-half goals.
Hamburg bounced back from last week's Europa League exit with a 4-0 win over Nuremberg which leaves their oppoents in the relegation zone. Hertha's relegation was confirmed by their 1-1 draw at Leverkusen as the league's bottom side are four points from safety and face Bayern in the final game of the season next Saturday.
Hanover gave themselves a strong chance of staying in the Bundesliga with an incredible 6-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach. This was only their eighth win of the season, but they led 4-0 at half-time as 'Gladbach's defence capitulated. The win leaves Hanover 15th - just above the relegation zone - and Mirko Slomka's side must beat Bochum next Saturday on the last day of the season to be sure of survival.