STUTTGART, Germany, April 23 – Borussia Dortmund could be crowned Bundesliga champions this weekend if they win at bottom side Borussia Moenchengladbach, but coach Jurgen Klopp says his side face a tough challenge.
With four games left, Dortmund have an eight-point lead at the top of the table and if second-place Leverkusen draw or lose at Hoffenheim, and then Borussia win at ‘Gladbach, the shield will go to Dortmund.
Dortmund are looking for their 22nd league win of the season, while ‘Gladbach are hoping to avoid their 19th Bundesliga defeat with relegation beckoning.
With ‘Gladbach fighting for survival, Klopp is wary of the wounded hosts who badly need points to stay in Germany’s top-flight.
"It will be brutally hard," said Klopp. "We can’t take anything for granted at this stage of the season."
Dortmund’s Turkish playmaker Nuri Sahin has been ruled out until the end of the season after the 22-year-old injured his right knee in his side’s 3-0 win against Freiburg last Saturday.
In Sahin’s place, veteran Brazilian Antonio da Silva will play in midfield with Robert Lewandowski expected to play as the lone striker.
The Poland striker is on four yellow cards and a fifth would see him suspended for the game with Nuremberg on April 30.
Dortmund’s top-scorer Lucas Barrios is back in training 13 days after tearing his adductor muscle against Hamburg, but Klopp says he will not risk the 26-year-old.
This fixture holds the record for the biggest defeat in Bundesliga history as Dortmund were beaten 12-0 at ‘Gladbach on April 29, 1978.
Bayern, fourth in the league, are at Eintracht Frankfurt and need a win to leapfrog Hanover and stay in contention for a Champions League place next season.
Bayern hammered Leverkusen 5-1 in Munich last Sunday and are determined to finish at least in the top three.
Relegation-threatened Eintracht will be without key defender Maik Franz as the 29-year-old has broken a bone in his foot and will be out until the end of the season.
"It would have been easier for us to beat Frankfurt if Franz was in their team, because I’ve always done well against him in the past," said Bayern’s Germany striker Miroslav Klose who has scored four goals on his last three visits to Frankfurt.
Schalke 04 warm-up for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final with Manchester United by hosting Kaiserslautern at their Veltins Arena stadium without defender Benedikt Hoewdes.
The 23-year-old, who scored the winner in the quarter-final win over Inter Milan at home, picked up a hip injury on Tuesday and faces a race against time to face United.
The Royal Blues are still reeling after goalkeeper Manuel Neuer announced on Wednesday he will not extend his contract, which runs until 2012, and he looks set to join Bayern Munich.
At the foot of the table, both 2009 champions Wolfsburg and St Pauli badly need wins, over Cologne and Werder Bremen respectivley, to get themselves out of the bottom three.
In the Bundesliga, the bottom two are relegated, while third from bottom faces a play-off with third from top of the second division.
Schalke 04 v Kaiserslautern, Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim, VfB Stuttgart v Hamburg, Eintracht Frankfurt v Bayern Munich, St. Pauli v Werder Bremen, Borussia M’gladbach v Borussia Dortmund
VfL Wolfsburg v Cologne, Nuremberg v Mainz 05