Bayern's Neuer eyes clean sheet milestone
Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is hoping to break the 1,000-minute clean sheet mark on Saturday against Hoffenheim, having last conceded a goal nearly two months ago.
Moenchengladbach are the only team to have beaten or even scored against Bayern in any competition this season after their 1-0 win in Munich on 7 August and Neuer has now gone 928 minutes without conceding a goal for the Bavarians. Bayern picked up their 10th consecutive win with a 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and confidence is sky-high in Jupp Heynckes' team.
Neuer will pass the 1,000-minute mark if he shuts out fourth-placed Hoffenheim until at least the 72nd minute, but the 25-year-old says the secret of his success is down to his team-mates' hard work. "I have to compliment the entire team, everyone helps in defence and we all try to avoid to conceding a goal," said Neuer.
"It is normal that a goalkeeper wants to achieve that, but it is remarkable that the forwards are so involved in that regard too. We are playing every three or four days now, but despite that we are all in good condition and that really helps."
Milestones in sight
Despite his impressive run of form, Neuer has someway to go to threaten the record of clean sheets. Belgian Dany Verlinden holds the European record of 1,390 minutes for Brugge, a mark which Manchester United's Edwin van der Saar came close to breaking when he went 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal in the 2008/09 season. But the world record belongs to Brazil's Matos Filho Mazaropi of Vasco da Gama, who went 1,816 minutes without conceding a goal between 1977 and 1978.
Bayern are set to welcome back Germany defender Holger Badstuber after he missed the City win with 'flu, leaving Heynckes to be able to name a full-strength side with virtually all players fit. Hoffenheim coach Holger Stanislawski insisted the visitors are clear favourites for both their 11th win and the German league title even with seven months still to play.
"I believe Bayern will win the league by some distance," he said. "They are in an incredible condition and that makes them unpredictable at the moment. Nevertheless, we want to beat the future German champions. This is a chance for our young team to see how far we've come, I am intrigued to see what sort of shape we are in."
Werder Bremen, second in the table and two points behind Bayern, are at Hannover on Sunday and they will be without suspended goalkeeper Tim Wiese who was sent off a fortnight ago against Nuremberg.
Bremen boss Thomas Schaaf has said he wants his side to attack Bayern's lead at every opportunity, while director of sport Klaus Allofs has said the Bavarians are far from unbeatable. "I don't think that the other 17 Bundesliga clubs have to raise the white flag in front of Bayern," he said.
Third-placed 'Gladbach are at Freiburg on Saturday with Lucien Favre's team chasing their fourth straight win in a remarkable turn-around having just avoided relegation last season in a play-off.
Defending champions Borussia Dortmund take on winless Augsburg on Saturday with Jurgen Klopp's team licking their wounds after Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League defeat at Marseille.
Schalke 04, who appointed Huub Stevens as their new coach at the start of the week, play on Sunday against a Hamburg team who are still looking for a permanent boss after Michael Oenning was sacked last week.
Cologne go to Hertha Berlin with Germany striker Lukas Podolski in top-class form after his team comfortably defeated Leverkusen and Hoffenheim in recent weeks. "It's difficult to play against a striker like him," said Hertha coach Markus Babbel, with 60,000 expected at Berlin's Olympic Stadium. "You can not completely take him out of the game."
With three goals in his last two games, the 26-year-old is proving his doubters wrong after being criticised by Cologne bosses after several lacklustre performances at the start of the season.