Bayern Munich can break new ground and focus attention back onto playing matters with victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
After president Uli Hoeness was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for tax evasion on Thursday, the German and European champions can hit the headlines for the right reasons by smashing the Bundesliga record for consecutive unbeaten games matches from the start of a season.
Bayern’s 6-1 win over Wolfsburg last Saturday moved them to 24 league games without defeat this term – a figure Leverkusen achieved in the 2009-10 campaign.
Leverkusen are one of two sides to take points off Bayern in the Bundesliga in 2013-14 and their recent record against Bayern will give Sami Hyypia’s side hope at the Allianz Arena.
Not only were Leverkusen the last time to beat Bayern in a top-flight fixture – winning 2-1 at the Allianz Arena in October 2012 – they have only lost once in their last four meetings with the German champions.
After Leverkusen secured 2-0 and 2-1 victories in 2012, Bayern only clinched three points at the BayArena last season thanks to a Philipp Wollscheid own goal three minutes from time.
This season’s reverse fixture saw Sidney Sam cancel out Toni Kroos’ opener with Leverkusen having since surrendered second place thanks to a dismal run of form since the turn of the year.
Hyypia’s men have won just twice in all competitions since the start of 2014 – slipping to third while also crashing out of the DFB-Pokal to second-tier Kaiserslautern.
Leverkusen also bowed out of the UEFA Champions League in midweek after a 6-1 aggregate defeat to Paris Saint-Germain.
However, Hyypia maintains his players took confidence from Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to PSG, explaining: “We always want to win so we can’t be happy but we showed character and gained confidence – ready for Saturday.”
Captain Simon Rolfes added: “We said this week would be very hard for us with games against Paris and Bayern Munich, but we have taken steps forward in our self-confidence and also our style of play – in defence, but also our attack.
“This was a small step so that we can reach our goal of qualifying for the Champions League again next year.”
Despite seeking to remain positive, Leverkusen need only look at Bayern’s form since their draw in October for an indicator of the challenge they face.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won all 16 Bundesliga games since the stalemate – and are 49 matches unbeaten in the league – while also moving into the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal and the last eight of the Champions League.
Bayern remain in the running to repeat last season’s treble after Tuesday’s 3-1 aggregate win over Arsenal and, provided other results go the runaway leaders’ way, could win the Bundesliga before the end of March.