Champion Bayern hosts cup final opponent KaiserslauternPosted: Thursday May 01, 2003 6:33 AM
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- With the Bundesliga title already under the belt, Bayern Munich can now turn its attention to the second crown within its reach, the German Cup. For three other teams, the battle is on for second place.
Bayern grabbed its 18th championship with a 2-0 victory at Wolfsburg last week and Saturday's match against Kaiserslautern will an occasion for home fans to celebrate the title.
"We should not now start playing complacent soccer," said captain and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, who missed a hastily arranged team dinner after the return from Wolfsburg last week and later apologized to coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.
Kahn missed Germany's 1-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro on Wednesday with an elbow injury but he is expected to be back in goal against Kaiserslautern.
General manager Uli Hoeness wants his team to use the final four matches in the Bundesliga to offer crowd-pleasing soccer.
"Our main goal has been achieved. Now, we are obliged to play well," he said.
Saturday's match will be a dress rehearsal for the German Cup final later this month in Berlin, which also features Bayern and Kaiserslautern.
"A double would be good compensation for the early ouster form the Champions League," Hoeness said.
With relegation worries practically behind it, Kaiserslautern can also concentrate on the cup final. No matter what, Kaiserslautern is assured of playing in Europe next season. Since Bayern will be in the Champions League, Kaiserslautern will be in the UEFA Cup even if loses the final.
Second place in the Bundesliga brings another coveted berth in the Champions league and three teams are in the running -- Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin.
Berlin is hot, with six wins in the last seven games.
Huub Stevens' team, which at 51 is one point behind Dortmund and two behind Stuttgart, has a tough away match at Werder Bremen, which can still qualify for the UEFA Cup.
Dortmund is at home to Wolfsburg and Stuttgart travels to Hannover, which needs a few more points to be safe.
On paper, Dortmund, have the easiest schedule, with three of the last four games at home. After Wolfsburg, Dortmund plays Nuremberg and Energie Cottbus at home, traveling to Kaiserslautern in between.
Stuttgart's surprise run has sputtered in recent weeks, with the young team of Felix Magath collecting only six points from the last five games.
Apart from the tough match at Hannover, Stuttgart has a difficult schedule, facing Werder Bremen at home, Bayern Munich away and a final day home clash with Wolfsburg.
Berlin also has Bayern in its way, plus Wolfsburg and Kaiserslautern.
At the bottom, Cottbus looks doomed, while Nuremberg and Bayer Leverkusen can still hope.
Nuremberg sacked coach Klaus Augenthaler on Wednesday and replaced him with Wolfgang Wolf, who was in Wolfsburg until March. His first match in new colors will be against 1860 Munich.
Leverkusen hosts Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday.
In other matches, Bochum hosts Moenchengladbach on Saturday and Hansa Rostock plays Schalke on Sunday.