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Title beckons for masterly Bayern

Published: Friday 5 April 2013, 9.02CET
FC Bayern München can seal the Bundesliga title with six games to spare on a weekend that sees FC Shakhtar Donetsk at FC Dynamo Kyiv and key games in Belgium and Switzerland.

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Published: Friday 5 April 2013, 9.02CET

Title beckons for masterly Bayern

FC Bayern München can seal the Bundesliga title with six games to spare on a weekend that sees FC Shakhtar Donetsk at FC Dynamo Kyiv and key games in Belgium and Switzerland.

Germany: Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Bayern München (Saturday 15.30)
It would be a fitting end to a fine week if Bayern clinched their 23rd German championship. Last weekend they won 9-2 against Hamburger SV. Then, on Tuesday, they beat Juventus 2-0 in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg. If the Bavarian side can prevail in Frankfurt, they will regain the title with six games remaining.

Eintracht manager Armin Veh is full of respect for the Bundesliga champions-elect. "There have been ten league games since January and Bayern have won them all. It's not normal how well they are playing. They are working back in defence together and are playing the ball forward much quicker than they did under Louis van Gaal. That is something Jupp [Heynckes] has done." With the Juve return trip on the horizon, Heynckes may choose to deploy some fringe players although, as HSV found out, that can be a formidable enough prospect.

Belgium: R. Standard de Liège v RSC Anderlecht (Saturday 18.00)
Leaders Anderlecht began the championship play-offs – in which the top six start with half the points they gained in the regular season – last week with a 2-1 home defeat by third-placed KRC Genk, who on Sunday host SV Zulte Waregem. Those two sides are now just one and three points behind Les Mauves et Blancs, meaning Anderlecht cannot afford another setback when they visit Liege.

At the end of the regular campaign, Standard were 17 points shy of Anderlecht – that gap is now down to six. From a similar position two years ago Standard finished runners-up behind Genk, yet if some supporters are dreaming of the title, coach Mircea Rednic is not looking that far ahead. "We got three points last week but still have nine matches to play," he said. "The only thing we are thinking about is the Anderlecht game."

Switzerland: FC Zürich v Grasshopper-Club (Saturday 19.45)
Fifth-placed Zürich have been one of the form teams in the Super League since the winter break, winning five of their seven fixtures, while Grasshoppers sit three points behind leaders FC Basel 1893. Both sides were beaten last time out, however, Zürich succumbing 3-1 at home to FC St Gallen and GC losing 1-0 at FC Thun following arguably their most disappointing display of the season.

This encounter, therefore, offers either club the chance for redemption. Zürich went down 1-0 in both fixtures against their city rivals before Christmas and are eager for revenge. "Now it's our turn," said coach Urs Meier, a former Grasshoppers player. Grasshoppers boss Uli Forte countered: "Even though FCZ have collected 16 points from seven games since the winter break, we need this win and we will earn it. I have great faith in my team."

©AFP/Getty Images

Stevan Jovetić is out for Fiorentina

Italy: ACF Fiorentina v AC Milan (Sunday 12.30)
Defeated at Cagliari Calcio last weekend, fourth-ranked Fiorentina slipped six points behind AC Milan in third, so this home match against the Rossoneri represents an immediate opportunity to close the gap. Viola coach Vincenzo Montella will be without influential forward Stevan Jovetić – who has a thigh injury – but captain Manuel Pasqual is sure that victory is within range.

"Our primary target is still third place," remarked the 31-year-old defender, well aware that in-form Milan have been rejuvenated since the beginning of the year. "We'll try to restrict [Stephan] El Shaarawy and [Mario] Balotelli, as both are fast, skilled and very dangerous." Furthermore, it will be a special occasion for several players: Riccardo Montolivo and Giampaolo Pazzini both played for Fiorentina previously, while Alberto Aquilani went in the opposite direction last summer.

England: Tottenham Hotspur FC v Everton FC (Sunday 15.05)
Three straight Premier League wins have kept sixth-placed Everton on the coat-tails of Tottenham in third, but this is where the Blues could lose their grip. Indeed, Sunday's north London showdown may well make or break Everton's European challenge: while a victory would take them within three points of Spurs, a defeat would cut them adrift.

One hope for the Merseysiders – who won the reverse fixture 2-1 – is that Gareth Bale has never scored against them. Yet Everton midfielder Darron Gibson recognises the sizeable threat that Bale, with 17 league goals, poses: "He has been unbelievable. He's won games for Spurs on his own. But hopefully he is not good on Sunday."

Ukraine: FC Dynamo Kyiv v FC Shakhtar Donetsk (Sunday 18.30)
It was only in the last round of matches that Dynamo finally reclaimed the second spot that would secure UEFA Champions League qualification. With eight games remaining, though, they are 16 points short of Shakhtar who are strolling towards the Premier League title. Still, this sold-out Olympic Stadium contest promises to be a fiery affair. Dynamo have lost seven of the last ten meetings with their fiercest rivals but are yet to host them at the 70,000 stadium renovated for UEFA EURO 2012.

"On Sunday, we will need the crowd behind us like never before. We just have to win," said Dynamo midfielder Andriy Yarmolenko. Shakhtar skipper Darijo Srna responded: "Dynamo want to finish second but we're in better form. We have been better all season and have to prove it again. I am sure Dynamo's competitors Metalist and Dnipro will be supporting us."

All times CET

Last updated: 04/12/13 6.00CET

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