Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich could wrap up their fourth consecutive championship in the German top flight this weekend when they take on Hertha BSC.
The Bavarian giants hold a seven-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund, and a win combined with a BVB loss would clinch the title. A win with a Dortmund draw would all but mathematically decide the championship, as Bayern's goal difference stands 16 greater than that of their rivals with four matches left to be played.
Bayern are still on track for a treble, having reached the DFB-Pokal final and UEFA Champions League semifinals.
With the first leg of their Champions League tie with Atletico scheduled for next week, Pep Guardiola may consider a rotation of his starting lineup. Thus, Saturday's action could be especially interesting for fans as fringe players make an appeal for more playing time in the big games to come.
Hertha have struggled as of late, having taken just one point from three matches. Their slump has seen them slip out of a position in which they would automatically qualify for the 2016-17 Champions League, and even a fourth-place finish is in danger.
On Wednesday, Hertha were eliminated from the DFB-Pokal following a 3-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund. For all their hard work and success for most of the season, the capital club are in danger of having it all slip away.
Hertha coach Pal Dardai appeared rather shaken after the Pokal defeat, but he will need to gather strength and rally his men ahead of Saturday's match if the Berlin side are to stand a chance.
Date: Saturday, April 23
Time: 5:30 p.m. BST/12:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. local time
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich
TV Info: FS2 (U.S. only), BT Sport Europe (UK only, on time delay beginning Sunday at 12:15 a.m.)
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S. only), BT Sport Player (UK only)
|Dortmund: Loss||Werder Bremen: Win|
|Hoffenheim: Loss||Schalke: Win|
|Hannover: Draw||Benfica: Draw|
|Monchengladbach: Loss||Stuttgart: Win|
|Ingolstadt: Win||Benfica: Win|
Hertha will be without Sami Allagui and ex-Bayern man Sinan Kurt. Mitchell Weiser will return to action, however, having served his suspension for accumulated yellow cards last weekend.
Possible starting XI: Jarstein; Pekarik, Langkamp, Brooks, Plattenhardt; Cigerci, Lustenberger; Weiser, Kalou, Stocker; Ibisevic.
Holger Badstuber and Arjen Robben are still out for Bayern, but Jerome Boateng could make his long-awaited return as a substitute.
Possible starting XI: Neuer; Lahm, Kimmich, Benatia, Alaba; Vidal, Thiago; Costa, Muller, Ribery; Lewandowski.
Players to Watch
For Hertha, Mitchell Weiser will be one to watch as he faces off against his former employers. The wide-playing all-rounder has followed up a disappointing stint at Bayern with a brilliant first season in Berlin. As well, Salomon Kalou could prove pivotal: Similar to Weiser, the former Chelsea man has reinvented himself this season in the German capital.
Thomas Muller scored a brace in midweek, as did Robert Lewandowski last weekend. The pair have been the men to provide the goals for Bayern all season long, although rotation may see fringe players like Kingsley Coman step out of the shadows. The Frenchman and his fit-again compatriot Franck Ribery could be crucial.
Mitchell Weiser vs. Douglas Costa
Ex-Bayern man Weiser has had a great season on the right wing, both as a full-back and an attacking player. A skilled dribbler and passer of the ball, the youngster will aim to show his former club they made a mistake in letting him go, and to prove a point to Joachim Low ahead as the Germany trainer considers his UEFA Euro 2016 squad
Douglas Costa was the Bundesliga's best player during the fall campaign, although his form has been a little less consistent in 2016. He now faces more competition from Franck Ribery than before, so the Brazilian will be keen to show his best form ahead of the Atleti tie.
John Brooks vs. Robert Lewandowski
John Brooks has been rock-solid at the back for Hertha all season long, his influence helping the Berlin side to a record of just 36 goals conceded in 30 matches. He'll have his hands full with Lewandowski, but the American defender is strong, sturdy and a great winner of the ball.
Lewandowski roared back into form last weekend as he scored a brace to lead Bayern to victory over Schalke. The striker has become a real talisman for his club, with his 38 goals spearheading their hunt for titles.
Odds (courtesy of Odds Shark)