Berlin: Runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich will be looking to end the first half of the season on a high with a win over Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday as contract talks with coach Jupp Heynckes are pushed to the new year. With a four-week winter break starting next week, the Bavarians are eager to consolidate their 11-point lead going into the holidays with their 14th win in 17 league matches in what has so far been a record-breaking season.
Victory on Friday would see them 14 points clear with their closest title rivals in action a day later.Second-placed Bayer Leverkusen, on 30 points, host mercurial Hamburg SV while champions Borussia Dortmund, in third spot on 27, take on lowly Hoffenheim. Bayern bosses, aware of last year's implosion at the same stage that cost them the title, have been careful not to rock the boat this season and have also postponed contract talks with Heynckes to next year to maintain calm among the players.
Heynckes, who joined for a third spell last season, has led the team to a record-breaking start as Bayern have scored a stunning 46 league goals and conceded a mere six so far for the best offence and defence in the league. They have also carved out the biggest lead going into the winter break by any other Bundesliga team in its 50-year history and also enjoyed the best season start in half a century of top flight football.
With a four-week winter break starting next week, the Bavarians are eager to consolidate their 11-point lead.
"This is a discussion we will not start now," Bayern President Uli Hoeness told reporters this week while paying a visit to a fan club and asked about contract talks with Heynckes. "Personnel issues will not be opened now because we want to spend calm holidays," he said. The coach, a close personal friend of Hoeness, could well be offered a new deal if he ends Bayern's two-season trophy drought.
However, talk of a successor to the veteran 67-year-old coach has been swirling in the past weeks with a string of names being mentioned, including former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. Even former Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn became an advocate for the Spaniard, writing in his blog a transitional period for Guardiola at Bayern alongside Heynckes could be useful with the German bringing his Spain experience into the mix.
Whether Heynckes, who led Real Madrid to the Champions League title in 1998 and came out of retirement for a four-match spell at Bayern in 2009 before taking over in 2011, would want to stay on is still unknown. A Bundesliga title victory this season, on the cards given their form so far, would crown a hugely successful sporting career with another record: that of the oldest coach ever to win the Bundesliga.