Bayern target big Bundesliga lead before Club World Cup departure


BERLIN: Bayern Munich will not be distracted by a busy 11-day schedule, including the Club World Cup, and a possible total of four games, when they visit Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Friday looking to capitalise on their opponents’ struggles.

The Bavarians can cap a memorable run next week by winning their sixth trophy in less than nine months when they travel to Qatar but they must first focus on relegation-threatened Hertha.

“Qatar obviously is a strain. We have the flight, matches on Monday and Thursday and almost no time to train,” coach Hansi Flick told reporters. “But Hertha are more important initially. The team is motivated and I like that.”

Bayern, who have won their last four league games going into Friday’s match, hope that when they board the flight to Doha after the match they will be provisionally 10 points clear in the Bundesliga standings.

They have 45 points, seven ahead of second-placed RB Leipzig, who play on Saturday. Hertha, who appointed Pal Dardai last week to replaced sacked coach Bruno Labbadia, are 15th, level with Arminia Bielefeld who occupy the relegation playoff spot.

The Berliners, who have received more than €200 million from major investor Lars Windhorst in the past year, are hoping Dardai can pull them out of their current situation.

“Hertha are under great pressure at the moment and obviously we want to take advantage of that if they are shaky in some situations in the game or if it is not going their way and we are 1-0 up,” Bayern midfielder Thomas Mueller said.

“We hope that this will be an advantage for us.”

A 10-point gap would allow Bayern to play more freely at the Club World Cup where they will look to earn their sixth trophy since June. They face the winners of the match between Qatar’s Al Duhail and Egypt’s Al Ahly in the semi-finals on Monday.

“We want to win the next title. We know there are dangers there but it would be the sixth title for the club within a year and the team would go down in history,” Flick said.

While he is expected to rotate in Doha, ensuring all players get time on the pitch, Flick is not expected to hold the team back at Hertha.

“In Berlin we want to get our fifth win in a row and send a message in the Bundesliga that we are fully on course again, on a winning run,” Flick said.

The Club World Cup final is on Thursday. Bayern host Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga on Feb. 15 when they return. – Reuters

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