Leaders Wolfsburg wary of top spot pressure
Bundesliga leaders VfL Wolfsburg must keep their feet on the ground to avoid choking seven matches before the end of an exciting season, coach Felix Magath has warned.
Wolfsburg enjoy a three-point lead over second-placed Bayern Munich and Hamburg, having won a stunning nine matches in a row.
On Saturday they host Bayer Leverkusen, who have managed only one win in their last seven matches to drop to ninth place.
Disciplinarian Magath, who has banned any title talk in the changing room, warned his players that other teams have led this season and spectacularly crashed including newcomers Hoffenhein, who have failed to win in their last nine matches, Hertha Berlin, and even Leverkusen.
"This can happen really fast," Magath warned this week. "The last team to be on top was four points ahead just a few weeks ago and now they are five behind the leaders."
That team is Hertha Berlin, who tumbled after opening up a four-point lead and eyeing their first title since 1931, losing three straight matches and dropping to fourth place on 49 points.
Hertha take on Werder Bremen but will be missing suspended key striker Andriy Voronin, who was banned for three matches following a red card last week.
"Being on top does not bring any automatic wins," Magath said. "We are working to keep our feet on the ground."
That would be a wise decision given champions Bayern Munich, eliminated by Barcelona in their Champions League quarter-final this week, now only have the domestic title to fight for and are desperate to salvage an otherwise disappointing season.
Bayern travel to relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld and will have midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger back in the squad, after he recovered from a minor knee injury.
While striker Lukas Podolski is still doubtful, coach Juergen Klinsmann has said the team must win all their remaining fixtures to defend their title.
Level with Bayern on 51 points but with an inferior goal difference, Hamburg host Hanover 96 who stunned Hertha 2-0 last week.
Hamburg, who prior to that play Manchester City on Thursday in the UEFA Cup quarter-final return leg, have a busy schedule as they also take on Werder Bremen next week in the German Cup semi-finals.
The gruelling domestic and European schedule has already taken its toll on the players and their concentration, Hamburg losing to VfB Stuttgart to a stoppage time goal last week and seeing key defenders Guy Demel and Collin Benjamin still labouring with injuries.