Bayern, Dortmund clash in Munich
Munich, Germany (Sports Network) - Bayern Munich clinched the unofficial title of Bundesliga "autumn champions" in record time, but central defender Holger Badstuber said Thursday "it doesn't interest me at all."
Bayern's impeccable run of form in the first half of the Bundesliga season has left the record champions 10 points clear atop the standings three games ahead of the winter break.
It's a positive step for Bayern after two straight trophyless seasons, but the main focus is being at the top of the table in May.
"The trophies are handed out in the second half of the season, and we all know that," Badstuber said.
Bayern hosts two-time defending champion Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, with a score to settle from four straight league losses in the series. In addition, a loss in the Pokal Cup final last season gave Dortmund five straight wins.
The Munich side ended that run in the preseason DFB Supercup, and win Saturday would lift Bayern 14 points clear of its main title rival.
"The ten-point gap back to second place is much more of a factor (than leading at the halfway point)," Badstuber said. "It sounds good, but we still want to extend our lead, and take the next step against Dortmund."
Domestically, Bayern has dominated the Bundesliga this season with 12 wins and one tie in 14 games, with its loss against second-place Bayer Leverkusen.
The other numbers are staggering as well. Bayern has scored 40 goals and given up just five in 14 matches. And that has been with a number of regulars out of the lineup at one point or another.
Now, Bayern is in great shape with striker Mario Gomez back healthy, left back David Alaba back in good form after an injury layoff, and Badstuber and Jerome Boateng available after minor knocks.
Midfielder Luiz Gustavo is the lone absentee of note, but Bayern bolstered its midfield this season with the $50 million signing of Javi Martinez.
Even with most of the options available for coach Jupp Heynckes, Badstuber has no doubt the match against Dortmund will be tough.
"It'll be a tight, hotly contested game," Badstuber said. "We have to play as a tight unit, we need to come together and work together. That's the recipe for success."
Dortmund has also regained its health following a string of injuries, as Mario Gotze, Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels are all fit after spells out.
Although Dortmund's form has dipped domestically, it has shown up in Europe as the best team in the Champions League "Group of Death." Dortmund sits atop the standings over Real Madrid by three points, and holds the tiebreaker.
Bayern is also through to the last 16 again, but it still has the top place in the group to play for on the final day when it hosts BATE.
Should Bayern all but end the Bundesliga race this weekend, both teams will be set up for extended runs in the Champions League when the calendar switches to the new year.
Don't count Dortmund out yet, though.
Also Saturday, Leverkusen hosts Nurnberg, Schalke hosts Monchengladbach, Mainz hosts Hannover, Augsburg hosts Freiburg and Greuther Furth hosts Stuttgart. On Sunday, Hoffenheim hosts Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg hosts Hamburg.
On Friday, Stefan Reisinger, Oliver Fink, Nando Rafael and Axel Bellinghausen scored as Dusseldorf hammered Eintracht, 4-0.