Dortmund boss Klopp dismisses title talk
Runaway leaders Dortmund take on erratic Werder Bremen on Saturday with coach Jurgen Klopp dismissing any title talk while Bayern Munich try to bring their UEFA Champions League form to the Bundesliga.
Klopp's side have a ten-point lead at the top of the table, with two league matches left this year, and will start 2011 as the team to beat here. Dortmund have won their last six games and their only defeat came at Bayer Leverkusen on the opening day of the season back in mid-August.
Since then they have won 13 of their 15 league matches and while his side have been dubbed autumn champions, Klopp refuses to talk titles until next May. "That title really has zero meaning for us," said Klopp. "In any case, I have never seen a banner or trophy which says autumn champions 2010."
His side is full of young talented players who have all come of age this season and Klopp finds himself in the unusual position of fielding questions about Dortmund's chance to win their first league title since 2002. "It is more important we keep playing well. Every game is like a final for us, the next game is always the most important for me," said the 43-year-old.
Bremen are tenth in the league, but are having a poor season by their own standards and went out of the Champions League on Tuesday, despite a 3-0 win over holders Inter Milan. Thomas Schaaf's side are erratic, but were buoyed on Wednesday by the news striker Hugo Almeida, who is out of contract in June, has said he will not leave in January's transfer window. The Portugal star is suspended for Saturday night's game, while Klopp can expect to select from a virtual full-strength side.
Bayern seek momentum
With five months still left of the season, defending champions Bayern are already waving the white flag in terms of the title race as coach Louis van Gaal said last weekend the 17-point gap behind Dortmund looks to big to close.
Bayern host St Pauli on Saturday at Munich's Allianz Arena and, after last Saturday's shock 2-0 defeat at Schalke in Gelsenkirchen, Van Gaal's side need to get back to winning ways as they are seventh in the league. Munich remain without their trio of injured stars in Ivica Olic, Miroslav Klose and Arjen Robben, who are all expected back in the new year with Bayern through to the last 16 in Europe.
After a disastrous start to the season, Schalke have won six of their last ten games and despite being 15th in the league have reached the last 16 of the Champions League. Their 2-0 defeat of Munich took the league by surprise and second-placed Mainz will have their work cut out to cope with them on Sunday. Having started the season with a hiss and a roar, Mainz are faltering and have lost four of their last six league games.
Stuttgart coach Jens Keller badly needs a win at Hanover on Friday night with rumours circulating he will be replaced during the winter break by former Hamburg and Leverkusen boss Bruno Labbadia. Hanover are chasing their fifth straight win and are up to fourth in the table, while Stuttgart are 16th and inside the dreaded relegation zone.