Heynckes demands improvement
Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes admits his side are in for a much bigger challenge than they expected for the Bundesliga title this season.
A 3-1 defeat by Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend has left four clubs within just one point at the top of the table. ayern currently lead Borussia Dortmund and Schalke only on goal difference with Gladbach a point further behind.
With the prospect of a four-horse race for the title, Heynckes has called on his side to pick up the reins and race clear, starting with victory over Wolfsburg on Saturday.
"We have incredible ability and amazing individual players, but at FC Bayern you cannot afford to sit back,'' he said. "It is my task to drill that into the players, not only this week, but until May. We have got to be cooler and concentrate more with our finishing.
"Overall, the team must learn and understand that nowadays it is not enough only to have great ability. Everybody has got to be prepared to go beyond the pain barrier.''
Not only were Dortmund and Schalke able to draw level on points with Bayern at the top last weekend, but comprehensive victories over Hamburg and Stuttgart respectively enabled them to improve their goal difference.
Simply winning their games against Hoffenheim and Cologne on Saturday is therefore not enough as they must also aim to match or preferably better what Bayern achieve.
Gladbach are still lurking just a point behind the top three, meanwhile, and they are the last of the top four in action this weekend when they travel to Stuttgart on Sunday evening.
By then, they will know precisely what a win at the Mercedes-Benz Arena will be worth.
Behind the top four, Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen are currently occupying the positions five and six, which would earn them a place in the Europa League next season.
However, both sides have ambitions of playing in the Champions League next season and their clash at the Weser Stadion on Saturday could show who has the best chance of living up to their expectations.
Behind them, Hannover have slipped out of contention for a place in Europe next season due to an eight-game winless run.
They could even drop below opponents Nurnberg should they fail to halt their slide down the table at the Niedersachsenstadion on Friday night.
Elsewhere, Hertha Berlin host Hamburg and Augsburg entertain Kaiserslautern in two important fixtures in the bottom half of the table while Mainz and Freiburg clash on Sunday with one of the two sides guaranteed to end the weekend inside the relegation zone.