Dortmund and Leverkusen concede title
Ahead of Sunday's Bundesliga showdown between Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund both sides have claimed the German title race is all but over.
When Leverkusen take on Dortmund at the Bay-Arena late on Sunday afternoon, Bayern Munich could have already opened up a 14-point gap to chasers Leverkusen. Dortmund sit third and trail Leverkusen by a point.
Unnoticed by many, Leverkusen have become a solid force in the Bundesliga this season and look set for a top-three finish, but they don't have a good record against their opponents.
"Bayern play at eye level with Barcelona, that is a different league," Leverkusen general manager Rudi Voller told Bild. "We have to focus on our goals."
Since Jurgen Klopp took over the Dortmund job in 2008, Leverkusen have only beaten Dortmund once and during the first half of the season received a 3-0 hammering at the Westfalenstadion.
"That was easily our worst performance this season," Voller said. "Not least because of that result we want to show our best side on Sunday."
But Voller warned his team: "Dortmund scored eight in two games - that is a statement."
Dortmund's sought-after Poland international Robert Lewandowski was on target in both games after the winter break and they have not given up on extending the target man's stay at the club.
Lewandowski, who is under contract until 2014, could leave the German champions in the summer, with both Manchester United and Manchester City reportedly interested in his services. Along with local hero Kevin Grosskreutz, he is one of the last big names only contracted until 2014.
"My wish is that both stay and prolong," Dortmund boss Klopp told Sport Bild.
However, with a transfer to the Premier League not ruled out, Dortmund could target former Wolfsburg forward Edin Dzeko.
"He is an outstanding forward," Klopp added. "But so is [Atletico Madrid forward Radamel] Falcao. There is one thing we can say about those names and about other names. Until now everything at Borussia Dortmund has developed according to our rules and our salary structure. For no player in this world we will blast the BVB model.
"If somebody wants to join us, he has to adjust to our financial structures. Then he can have a lot of fun here, most probably more than at his last club."
But any player who joined would not be joining the German champions, Klopp said, laughing off the idea that his side could catch Bayern.
"Dortmund to win the title this year? Ridiculous," he said. "But it remains our goal to overtake Leverkusen."