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Hamburg next up in Bayern treble drive


Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich central defender Mats Hummels says the club’s powerful position going into their Bundesliga home tie with Hamburg this weekend is a good measure of coach Carlo Ancelotti’s ambitions for the season.

After Robert Lewandowski last gasp equaliser saved their 2017 unbeaten record in Berlin last weekend, Bayern are five points clear at the top, and 5-1 up against Arsenal in the Champions League Last-16.

Unbeaten in 16 games against Saturday’s visitors Hamburg, Hummels, who joined from Dortmund last summer, says their position of strength is a natural state of affairs.

“We’re where we want to be, five points clear, that’s in keeping with our ambitions, we want to win it all,” he said.

He also asserted that the new coach and his avuncular attitude were going down well in the dressing room at a crucial stage of their campaign, despite Ancelotti’s middle finger gesture to fans in Berlin after their equaliser for 1-1 at Hertha last week.

“He seems to exude peace and calm. This doesn’t mean that he fails to intervene if he sees the need, but he does this in his own way,” Hummels said.

The Bayern forward line, who hit eight goals past Hamburg in a 2015 Bundesliga game, will look over their shoulders as former France international forward Franck Ribery resumed training after a seven weeks lay off.

But Ancelotti will not rush Ribery back as he wants him and Arjen Robben fit for the latter part of the season.

Hamburg were once considered Bayern’s bogey team and have gone four games unbeaten going into Saturday’s clash.

Elsewhere Saturday Borussia Dortmund travel to unpredictable Freiburg without midfielders Andre Schuerrle and Mario Goetze, who combined to score the World Cup winner over Argentina out in Brazil.

Third-placed Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel has called for consistency and can usually count on striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who was off the score sheet last week in the 3-0 hammering of Wolfsburg.

Two teams that might have been expected to challenge Bayern this season Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen, clash Friday in record setting form.

Poor form that is, as both clubs have set their own record low points tally for this stage of the season Wolfsburg on 22 and Bremen 19.

Second-placed RB Leipzig snapped a two match losing streak last weekend to maintain their eight point gap on Dortmund, and the newcomers are relieved one of their chief sources of goals is back from suspension.

Emil Forsberg has nine assists and scored his sixth goal of the campaign last week against Monchengladbach.

“That’s the Emil we all came to know during the first half of the season, The goal was like a release for him,” Leipzig head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl said.

The Swede, whose father and grandfather both played international football, signed a one-year extension until 2022 last month.

Schalke are on a run in both Europe, after a midweek win over PAOK in the Europa League and in the Bundesliga and have won their last five games against Hoffenheim, who they play on Sunday.

Bundesliga fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Wolfsburg v Werder Breman (1930)

Saturday

Bayern Munich v Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz, Darmstadt v Augsburg, Freiburg v Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig v Cologne (1430), Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfort (1730)

Sunday

Ingolstadt v Borussia Monchengladbach (1430), Schalke 04 v Hoffenheim (1630)

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