BERLIN (Reuters) - Holders Bayern Munich claimed their 25th German league title on Sunday without kicking a ball -- the first of what they hope will be three trophies this season as they chase a repeat of their 2013 success.
The Bavarians, who are in the Champions League and German Cup semi-finals, have an unassailable 15-point lead with four games left after VfL Wolfsburg lost at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday to hand them a third straight league title.
Bayern beat Hertha Berlin 1-0 on Saturday but had to put the champagne on ice until after second-placed Wolfsburg’s match. They have 76 points from 30 games ahead of Wolfsburg on 61.
Gladbach’s Max Kruse scored in the 90th minute for a 1-0 victory that ended any mathematical chance of Wolfsburg catching the Bavarians. It also put second place in danger with Gladbach four points behind on 57 in third.
Second-bottom Paderborn squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Werder Bremen in the only other game on Sunday to join Hamburg SV, who are in the relegation playoff spot after their 3-2 home win over Augsburg on Saturday, on 28 points.
The Bundesliga title is the second for Bayern coach Pep Guardiola in his second season at the club, as the Spaniard chases a repeat of the league, cup and Champions League treble they won months before he arrived in 2013.
“It is something magnificent to defend our title and I can only congratulate our coach and players,” said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in a statement.
“They did it extremely well in a year after a World Cup where many of our players were competing.”
Bayern, domestic double winners last season, face Guardiola’s old club Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals next month and have also reached the German Cup last four where they take on Borussia Dortmund next week.
“You can compare the 25th title to a silver anniversary,” Germany great and honorary Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer said. “They played an outstanding first half of the season despite the energy-sapping World Cup. A 25th title needs special mention.”
Despite being plagued by injuries to key players throughout the season, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery and Philipp Lahm, Bayern showed nerves of steel as they dismantled every domestic opposition in the league.
They took charge from the start as rivals Borussia Dortmund, last season’s runners-up, imploded, with Wolfsburg emerging only briefly as title contenders before the gap to the top grew even more.
“It’s amazing to win three league titles in three years with Bayern,” midfielder Javi Martinez, one of those sidelined with injury for months this season, wrote on Twitter. “Today is a very happy day.”
Bayern have lost twice so far and conceded 13 goals in 30 matches, a record for this stage of the Bundesliga.
“Have no doubt, we will have big celebrations,” Rummenigge said. “But everything at the right time. Then we will party.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris