Bay­ern look to dom­i­nate sec­ond half

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BER­LIN: Lead­ers Bay­ern Mu­nich restart the Bun­desliga away to Bayer Lev­erkusen to­day while be­low them in the ta­ble plenty of teams re­sume play­ing for high stakes.

Bay­ern be­gin the 17-game sec­ond half of the league sea­son with an 11-point ad­van­tage – and could re­al­is­ti­cally be ex­cused for con­sid­er­ing a record-ex­tend­ing sixth con­sec­u­tive ti­tle won.

But they will be de­ter­mined to start sharply as an­other po­ten­tial tre­ble in­clud­ing the Ger­man Cup and Cham­pi­ons League comes into fo­cus.

Sec­ond-placed Schalke re­sume with a cracker away to RB Leipzig late to­mor­row, just four points ahead of Ein­tra­cht Frank­furt in eighth in a tight top half.

At the other end, bot­tom club Cologne looked doomed on only six points, nine adrift of safety, but ev­ery­one from Wolfs­burg, in 12th, down will be con­cerned about rel­e­ga­tion.

Above them only three teams – Augs­burg, Hertha Ber­lin and Hanover – seem set for the rel­a­tive anonymity of midtable.

Due to the World Cup in sum­mer, the clubs have had to deal with a short­ened win­ter break but Bay­ern have still been able to nur­ture Mats Hum­mels and Robert Le­wandowski back to fit­ness.

If Le­wandowski is not risked, new sign­ing San­dro Wag­ner could be given the chance to de­but in Lev­erkusen.

“I think we’re on the right track,” Wag­ner said. “Ev­ery­one’s worked well and been com­mit­ted. No-one’s think­ing about the lead, so no-one’s hold­ing back at all.”

Lev­erkusen are un­beaten in a dozen top flight games and ranked fourth, one of four sides cur­rently on the 28-point mark, and could go sec­ond with a win – at least un­til Schalke take to the field.

“We had ev­ery­thing we needed avail­able to us to help us work hard and in­ten­sively,” coach Domenico Tedesco said. “And that’s what we did.

“Of­fen­sively I thought we made progress. So I am look­ing for­ward to the start of the sec­ond half of the sea­son.”

Schalke’s lo­cal ri­vals Borus­sia Dort­mund are only two points be­hind in third de­spite a tur­bu­lent first half of the sea­son which started bril­liantly and cu­mu­lated in coach Peter Bosz be­ing dis­missed. Peter Stoeger stead­ied the ship and will aim to seize the chance of be­ing in place un­til the end of the sea­son, start­ing at home to Wolfs­burg on Sun­day.

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