BERLIN (Reuters) - At any other time a showdown between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund would be a season highlight but when the teams clash on Saturday, the focus will be on how soon can the Bavarians secure their sixth successive Bundesliga crown.
Dortmund are battling for a Champions League spot for next season, lying in third place on 48 points. They are one point behind Schalke 04, who host Freiburg with seven games left in the campaign.
Bayern are 17 points clear at the top and had to put their title celebrations on ice after losing 2-1 to RB Leipzig in the previous matchday.
But victory over visiting Dortmund in combination with a draw or defeat for Schalke would be enough for Bayern to wrap up a record-extending 28th league title.
“Obviously this is in the back of our minds,” said Bayern winger Arjen Robben, who has recovered from injury and has returned to training this week. He is expected to be fit for the match.
“If we had to chose a timing to win it then we would want it to be this Saturday. But obviously we still depend on others as well to win it and cannot secure it ourselves yet.”
The only other time Bayern won the title in March was under Pep Guardiola in 2014.
Bayern, chasing a treble, would be boosted by picking up their first silverware of the season ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Sevilla next week and a German Cup semi-final to follow.
But despite an inconsistent season, Dortmund have recovered under coach Peter Stoeger and remain undefeated in the 12 league games since he took over in December.
“They are playing better and now also under the new coach,” Robben warned. “Dortmund remain a very good team even if this season they were not as consistent.”
Dortmund will likely be without winger Marco Reus, with the Germany international having missed the friendlies against Spain and Brazil in the past days as well as their previous league game with adductor muscle problems.
“I don’t think there is enough time until the weekend,” said Stoeger of Reus’ chances of making the big game.
Defender Omer Toprak is also looking doubtful but with the Ruhr valley club having won five of their last seven league games and a Champions League spot the only goal left in their season, motivation should not be an issue.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar