Posted: Thursday March 28, 2013 7:49 AM

Bayern can clinch Bundesliga on Saturday

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -Bayern Munich can seal the Bundesliga championship if it beats Hamburger SV at home and Borussia Dortmund fails to win in Stuttgart on Saturday.

No other team has won the title with seven matches to spare since the Bundesliga was established in 1963. Bayern is already by far the league's most successful club with 21 titles. It also won one pre-World War II title, in 1932.

"It would be super if it works already on Saturday,'' Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos said. "First, because it would be at home, and second, I've always said I'd like to be champion as early as possible.''

Bayern has lost only one of 26 Bundesliga matches so far this season and is already looking at next week's Champions League quarterfinal match against Juventus.

"We want to get a good feeling against Hamburg that we can take to next week,'' Kroos said.

Defender Jerome Boateng and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had similar thoughts.

"It is important that we get a good result before the match against Juventus and that we also play a very good game if possible,'' Boateng said.

Director Matthias Sammer said no major celebrations were planned in case Bayern clinches the title.

"We'll go home, that's it,'' Sammer said, but added that there will be a team dinner at the stadium.

Bayern lost last season's Champions League final at home to Chelsea to remain without a trophy for a second straight season.

"We think we have a great chance in the Champions League and we don't want to endanger it by some overdone celebration,'' chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink, a former Bayern player, said there were better times to celebrate the title.

"It would not be good for Bayern to celebrate already on Saturday, three days before such an important game. Surely there is a more appropriate time,'' Fink said.

Going into the Easter weekend, Bayern is 20 points ahead of Dortmund, the two-time defending champion. If Bayern draws at home and Dortmund loses in Stuttgart, Bayern could still mathematically lose the championship, although the likelihood of that happening is virtually zero.

With the title all but decided, about the only suspense left is which teams will qualify for next season's Champions League.

Dortmund is four points ahead of Bayer Leverkusen and both teams look set to gain direct slots.

But below, six teams are battling for fourth place, which means a slot in qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Eintracht Frankfurt is six points behind Leverkusen in fourth. But only three points separate Eintracht from ninth-place Freiburg.

In between, Schalke, Mainz, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hamburg also have their sights on fourth place.

Eintracht is winless in six matches but got a boost this week when popular coach Armin Veh extended his contract for another season and signed on a new chief sponsor, opening the prospect of a bigger budget.

Veh's team could finally break the 40-point mark the coach has set as the target for the season when it travels to last-place Greuther Fuerth on Sunday. But Eintracht is without goalkeeper Kevin Trapp until the end of the season. Trapp broke his left hand and will be replaced by veteran Oka Nikolov.

Schalke hosts Hoffenheim, which is five points ahead of Greuther Fuerth and desperate to climb out of the relegation zone.

Mainz hosts Werder Bremen riding a six-game unbeaten streak, while slumping Bremen has not won in five.

Borussia Moenchengladbach visits Freiburg, where it has won only once in 11 trips.

Also Saturday, Augsburg hosts Hannover and Leverkusen travels to Fortuna Duesseldorf. On Sunday, Wolfsburg hosts Nuremberg.

 
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