Munich face key match in Stuttgart

14th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

14 May 2004 , HAMBURG - Dethroned Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich travel to VfB Stuttgart at the weekend for a crucial match regarding Champions League qualification but which is overshadowed by speculation around the teams' coaches. Munich's Ottmar Hitzfeld and Stuttgart's Felix Magath both have contracts until 2005, but it is not out of the question that Magath may leave for Munich this summer. Hitzfeld is the most successful trainer in Bayern's history with the 2001 Champions League title and four Bu

14 May 2004

HAMBURG - Dethroned Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich travel to VfB Stuttgart at the weekend for a crucial match regarding Champions League qualification but which is overshadowed by speculation around the teams' coaches.

Munich's Ottmar Hitzfeld and Stuttgart's Felix Magath both have contracts until 2005, but it is not out of the question that Magath may leave for Munich this summer.

Hitzfeld is the most successful trainer in Bayern's history with the 2001 Champions League title and four Bundesliga titles since he joined from Borussia Dortmund in 1998.

Last weekend's 3-1 home defeat against Werder Bremen, with which Bremen clinched the title and ended Munich's ambitions, fuelled new criticism.

Defeat in Stuttgart would further undermine Hitzfeld's position, especially as the 55-year-old has already stated he will leave the club in 2005 when his contract expires.

"It (the match) decides the future of the dethroned champions and the future of coach Ottmar Hitzfeld," said the Bild daily on Thursday.

Munich officials such as chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and club manager Uli Hoeness have over the past months spoken highly of Magath, who lifted a young Stuttgart team to second place last season and is doing well with them again this year.

It was revealed this week that Stuttgart are already talking with Austrian helmsman Walter Schachner about a move from Grazer AK should Magath leave.

But first comes Saturday's game in the penultimate round of the season where Sebastian Deisler could make his comeback from depression. Deisler has not played for Bayern since November.

Bayern can clinch second place and with it direct qualification for the Champions League with a draw. The third-placed team will have to go through qualifying for the elite event.

Bayern rank four points ahead of Stuttgart, while Bayer Leverkusen are also in the Champions League frame two points behind Stuttgart.

Leverkusen are in Bremen on Saturday, where the hosts will receive the Bundesliga trophy after the final whistle from league boss Werner Hackmann.

"We need two victories from the final games. There is a huge difference between the Champions League and the UEFA Cup," said Leverkusen coach Klaus Augenthaler, whose team then meet Stuttgart in the May 22 season finale.

The fourth-placed team qualifies for the UEFA Cup and so does the number 5 currently occupied by surprise package VfL Bochum, who have two points more than Dortmund.

Bochum are at second-from-bottom Eintracht Frankfurt and Dortmund host Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Frankfurt must win to keep alive their mathematical hope of staying in the top flight and number 12 Moenchengladbach are also not safe yet.

Frankfurt are likely to join Cologne in the second division and so are 1860 Munich, who are four points away from safety in 16th place going into their home game with fellow strugglers Hertha Berlin.

The other games are Hanover 96 vs. VfL Wolfsburg, Schalke 04 vs. Kaiserslautern, Cologne vs. Hansa Rostock and SC Freiburg vs. SV Hamburg.

DPA

Subject: German news 

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