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By ESPN Staff

Heynckes ignores sack talk

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes is ignoring the rumours suggesting he will not last more than a year in charge.

Bayern have recently dropped seven points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund while they need to overcome a 1-0 deficit to Basle next week if they are to maintain their hopes of playing in the Champions League final at their Allianz Arena home.

Reports in Germany this week claimed that Heynckes has already been informed by club bosses that he will be replaced in the summer, 12 months before his deal is due to expire, to which the club released a stern denial. However, Heynckes says he did not need to read the denial since he had not paid any attention to the speculation in the first place.

''To be honest, at the time when my contract (according to the media) was supposed to be extended, I never read what my critics were writing and I am not doing that now either,'' he said at a press conference. ''I have a contract here and I expect that I will fulfil it.''

However, for that to be the case, Heynckes still has a bit of convincing to do. Last weekend's 2-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen has left the record German champions with a mountain to climb if they are to regain the title from Dortmund.

Next Tuesday, they entertain Basle knowing that early elimination from the Champions League would leave them with little left to salvage from the season.

Saturday's clash with Hoffenheim therefore represents the start of what could be a pivotal week in Bayern's and Heynckes' season.

Should they fail to pick up all three points, Borussia Monchengladbach have the chance to move ahead of them in the table when they host Freiburg while Dortmund once again have the advantage of knowing their rivals' results before they take to the field in Augsburg on Saturday evening.

Fourth-placed Schalke host Hamburg on Sunday hoping to get back into contention for a top-three finish with Bayer Leverkusen, who head to Wolfsburg, now just four points behind them in fifth.

The race for places in Europe starts on Friday with Stuttgart's clash with struggling Kaiserslautern. A win for Bruno Labbadia's side would take them into seventh which, given the prospect of a DFB-Pokal final involving two sides from the top three, would be enough for Europa League qualification next season.

Hannover currently occupy that position and they travel to sixth-placed Werder Bremen on Sunday.

At the bottom of the table, Cologne and Hertha Berlin meet in the first of many relegation battles between now and May while Mainz and Nurnberg both know that a win at the Coface Arena would give them a bit more breathing space ahead of the bottom three.

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