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Hernandez: Five matches to watch

Liga MX 32 minutes ago
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By ESPN Staff
Apr 24, 2008

Bayern close in on 21st German championship

BERLIN, April 24 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich can clinch their 21st German championship if Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 lose on Saturday and they win at home to VfB Stuttgart on Sunday.

With five matches remaining, Bayern have 63 points and hold a commanding 10-point lead over second-placed Bremen (53) with Schalke a further two points back.

Should Bremen lose at 10th-placed Karlsruhe SC and Schalke fail to win at fourth-placed Hamburg SV (48), a home victory will make Bayern champions with a month to spare.

'We want to wrap up the Bundesliga championship within the next few weeks,' Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said after winning the German Cup on Saturday - the first of three titles he's chasing in his final season at Munich.

Hitzfeld's men face a UEFA Cup semi-final first leg match against Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday before attempting to settle a score with Stuttgart.

The champions beat Bayern 3-1 on Oct. 11, one of only two league defeats suffered by the Munich side this season.

They also beat the leaders 2-0 a year ago to not only end Bayern's championship hopes but send them into a late-season slump to miss out on Champions League qualification for the first time in a decade.

Bremen, who have struggled for much of the season with injury problems, have won their last three matches against Hertha Berlin, Schalke and Hansa Rostock.

Schalke, who beat Energie Cottbus 5-0 last week after being beaten by Bremen 5-1 the week before, face a difficult trip to Hamburg who are still in the hunt for a Champions League spot despite a five-match winless string.

The relegation battle remains fierce with 17th-placed Nuremberg hosting Arminia Bielefeld (15th) and Hansa Rostock (16th) travelling to Energie Cottbus (14th) on Saturday.