Bayern celebrate title with win

bayrenBERLIN: Bayern Munich celebrated their 24th Bundesliga title, which they secured on March 25, with a closing win yesterday while Hamburg’s hopes of remaining in the Bundesliga now hinge on the play-offs. Bayern rounded off their Bundesliga campaign with a 1-0 win over Stuttgart, their 29th victory of the season coming courtesy of an injury time goal from Claudio Pizarro. Pep Guardiola’s titleholders, knocked out of the Champions League semi-finals by Real Madrid, will now focus on next Saturday’s German Cup final against Borussia Dortmund. “For the Catalan that I am, the first time is special,” said Guardiola. “After such a successful last season (when Bayern won the league, Champions League and German Cup) it’s very good,” he added. “If we play with the same passion as we showed in the second half we can get past Dortmund.” While Bayern focus on the Cup final Hamburg face a nervy play-off before their record-breaking Bundesliga status is assured.

The only side never to have been relegated in the Bundesliga’s 51-year history will play the team which finishes third in the second division in a two-legged play-off. Hamburg, crowned European champions 31 years ago, assured their place in the play-offs despite a 3-2 loss at Mainz 05.

They finished the regular season on 27 points and had Schalke 04 and Hoffenheim to thank for keeping their Bundesliga future alive. Schalke dished out a 4-1 beating to Nuremberg and Hoffenheim saw off basement club Eintracht Braunschweig 3-1, to ensure it was Nuremberg and Eintracht that were relegated. They finished with 26 and 25 points respectively. Hamburg’s plight is all a far cry from their glory days when Felix Magath, now the manager of relegated English Premier League side Fulham, grabbed the only goal in the German side’s 1-0 final win over Juventus to lift the European Cup in 1983.

That was a side coached by legendary Austrian Ernst Happel, the man who led the Dutch to the 1978 World Cup final in Argentina and who won league titles in four different countries. In stark contrast, the Hamburg of 2013/2014 are already on their third coach after Mirko Slomka took over in February.

In a reflection of the instability, Thorsten Fink had only lasted until September while Bert van Marwijk, the former Dutch national team coach, was axed after the winter break. At the top of the table meanwhile Bayern were joined as automatic qualifiers for next season’s Champions League by runners-up Borussia Dortmund (4-0 winners over Hertha Berlin) and Schalke 04. And Bayer Leverkusen beat Werder Bremen 2-1 to ensure a fourth place finish and a Champions League play-off spot.

Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski contributed a brace in the defeat of Hertha to take his tally for the season to 20 goals and earn him the Bundesliga’s top-scorer of the season honours. “I’m thrilled to win this trophy, especially on the last day with a 4-0 win,” he said. Bayern’s Croatian international Mario Mandzukic came in second with 18 goals with Nuremberg’s Josip Drmic one goal back in third. — AFP

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