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Bayern´s Hitzfeld relishing Stuttgart showdown

in Bundesliga 26 Apr 2008

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Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld says his side are relishing the chance to put one hand on the Bundesliga title if they beat defending champions VfB Stuttgart on Sunday.

Bayern are nine points clear of nearest rivals Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 and a win over Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena would put them 12 points clear with four games left.

Only a mathematical miracle would deny them their 21st crown as German champions.

“We are very motivated by the chance of three more points which would take us a bit closer to the title,” said the Bayern coach on the club’s website after Saturday’s results.

Despite breaking his nose last week, striker Miroslav Klose may still be involved in the Stuttgart game after training on Saturday, while defender Philipp Lahm (groin injury) and captain Oliver Kahn (back) both face a race to be fit.

“I will make the most of the squad we have to spare those who played in Thursday’s UEFA Cup semi-final,” added Hitzfeld.

On Saturday, Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi fired Schalke 04 up to joint second in the Bundesliga.

Kuranyi’s 15th league goal of the season – after just two minutes – gave Schalke three points with a 1-0 win in Hamburg to go level on 54 points with Werder Bremen, who shared a 3-3 draw at Karlsruhe.

After Schalke 04 sacked coach Mirko Slomka a fortnight ago, caretaker coach Mike Bueskens was delighted with the 1-0 win at rivals Hamburg.

“I am very, very pleased with the win,” he said.

“We beat a direct competitor for a Champions League place and the early goal worked well for us.

“Hamburg played well, but just didn’t take their chances.”

The draw in Karlsruhe was a blow to Bremen, who were shocked by an early goal when Karlsruhe striker Sebastian Freis drilled home his 15th minute shot.

Werder hit back when midfielder Diego equalised eight minutes later and former Schalke midfielder Mesut Oezil scored his first goal of the season to put Bremen 2-1 ahead on 29 minutes.

But Freis added his second on 59 minutes before Kapllani put Karlsruhe ahead only for Bremen striker Boubacar Sanogo to level the scores in the 86th minute.

“It was a very entertaining game and the fans got their money’s worth,” said Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf.

“But we can’t be happy with the result, because it was possible for us to keep the pressure on.”

Further down the table, striker Mike Hanke gave Hanover an early goal at home to Hertha Berlin before Czech striker Jiri Stajner enjoyed the simplest of tap-ins to make it 2-0 after 26 minutes.

But Berlin clawed a goal back with a second-half penalty to make it 2-1 before Lukasz Piszczek equalised in the 66th minute to make it 2-2.

At the bottom of the table, Slovakian striker Marek Mintal netted a first-half goal for Nuremberg and Russian striker Ivan Saenko made it 2-0 against Arminia Bielefeld after 39 minutes with a superb strike.

But Bielefeld hit back as Artur Wichniarek and Markus Bollmann scored second-half goals to make it 2-2.

Energie Cottbus pulled themselves further from the relegation battle with a 2-1 win over Hansa Rostock.

Duisburg have gone bottom of the table with a 1-1 draw against VfL Bochum.

On Friday night mid-table sides Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1 while on Sunday Bayer Leverkusen can break into the top five if they beat VfL Wolfsburg at home.

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