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PREVIEW-Soccer-Champions League battle rages as Bayern ready to lift league title

·2-min read

BERLIN (Reuters) - Bayern Munich hope to seal their ninth straight Bundesliga title with a win against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday but the battle for a top four spot is raging below them with Champions League hopefuls Borussia Dortmund hosting RB Leipzig.

Bayern, on 71 points, will clinch their 31st German league crown and their 30th Bundesliga title since the introduction of the top division in 1963 if they match Leipzig's result or if they win their game.

For the German powerhouse, who surprisingly lost to Mainz 05 in their previous league match, this is the only silverware available this season after winning six in the 2019/2020 campaign, with coach Hansi Flick departing at the end of the season.

"We want to wrap up the title quickly and that's our goal," said attacking midfielder Thomas Mueller, who could earn a Bundesliga record 10th league title.

"We are optimistic. In the two weeks without a game we have gotten our hunger back. We had time to recover mentally and physically."

Second-placed Leipzig, on 64 points, still need a point to make sure of their spot for next season's Champions League but their opponents Dortmund, in fifth place on 55 points, have far more work to do.

The Ruhr valley club, who also face Leipzig in the German Cup final next week, are locked in a battle with fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt, on 56, and VfL Wolfsburg, in third on 57 for essentially two spots.

The top four teams automatically qualify for the lucrative Champions League group stage, with Bayern already certain and Leipzig all but through as well unless they lose all three remaining games.

Failure to qualify for Dortmund could prove damaging for the team as they would most likely be forced to sell their top players - Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland - to clubs competing in the top European club competition.

But Dortmund have rediscovered much-needed consistency in the past weeks, having now won their last four league games in a row to cut the gap to the top four and revive their hopes of premier European football next season.

They will be without Spanish defender Mateu Morey, however, after his serious knee injury in the German Cup semi-final last week.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Angus MacSwan)