Bayern eye title despite Hoeness shame
14 March 2014, 10:44
Berlin - Bayern Munich host Bayer Leverkusen in Saturday's top Bundesliga match with the European champions still reeling after club president Uli Hoeness was convicted of major tax fraud.
Sami Hyypia-coached Leverkusen were the last team to beat runaway leaders Bayern in the league when they left the Allianz Arena with a shock 2-1 win in October 2012.
Since then Bayern are unbeaten in 49 league matches and enjoy a 20-point lead in the table.
But the Bavarian giants are in turmoil after Hoeness was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Thursday.
The 62-year-old, who won the 1974 World Cup with West Germany, cheated the German state out of 28.5 million euros ($39.5 million) of taxes.
The European champions have said a decision on Hoeness' future at the club will be announced after his appeal is heard within the next week.
Having been the driving force behind the Champions League holders since joining them as an 18-year-old in 1970, Hoeness played a huge part in turning them into a European powerhouse.
Bayern have won 21 of their 23 German league titles and all five of their European Cup or Champions League victories with him involved either as a player, club manager or president.
"He's very important for us and for the whole club," summed up France winger Franck Ribery.
Leverkusen have problems of their own and last won on February 7, losing six of their last seven matches.
Third-placed Bayer were knocked out of the Champions League's last 16 on Wednesday when they lost 2-1 at Paris Saint-Germain after being drubbed 4-0 at home.
Bayern right-back Rafinha, centre-back Jerome Boateng and winger Thomas Mueller could all return having been left out of the starting side which drew 1-1 with Arsenal on Tuesday in the Champions League last 16.
Leverkusen are set to welcome back centre-back Emir Spahic, who was suspended for their Champions League match in Paris.
Second-placed Borussia Dortmund host Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday with the hosts welcoming back Poland striker Robert Lewandowski after a knee strain.
Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp will be without injured winger Marco Reus and suspended attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
"Unless something unusual happens, he won't be involved," said Klopp of Reus, with either Jonas Hofmann or new-signing Milos Jojic set to take Reus' place.
The Germany winger, who is suffering with a leg injury, has been off-form of late and last scored in December's 2-1 defeat to Hertha Berlin.
While Dortmund have won their last three games to regain second in the table, Gladbach have slumped to eighth and are winless in their last nine games.
Coach Lucien Favre signed a contract extension on Wednesday and the Foals have agreed a transfer with an unnamed club for Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The 21-year-old will leave at the end of the season and is strongly rumoured to be Barcelona's replacement for Victor Valdes.- Schalke set to go third -
Schalke 04 can leap-frog Leverkusen into third place on Friday when they are at sixth-placed Augsburg.
The Royal Blues of Schalke will be without Peru winger Jefferson Farfan, who has a knee injury.
Schalke travel to Real Madrid on Tuesday looking to overturn the near-impossible Champions League 6-1 deficit from their drubbing in Gelsenkirchen a fortnight ago.
Fifth-placed Wolfsburg are looking to brush off back-to-back defeats when they travel to bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig and keep up the hunt for a Champions League place.
At the bottom of the table, VfB Stuttgart's new coach Huub Stevens will be trying to coax their first win in ten matches having taken charge after Thomas Schneider was sacked.
Stuttgart are only out of the bottom three on goal difference, while Robin Dutt's Bremen are up to 11th after successive wins over strugglers Hamburg and Nuremberg.
Playing Friday (all times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Augsburg v Schalke 04
Borussia Dortmund v Bor. Moenchengladbach, Werder Bremen v VfB Stuttgart, Hoffenheim v Mainz 05, Eintracht Braunschweig v VfL Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin v Hanover 96, Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen (1730)
Hamburg v Nuremberg, Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg (1630)