With four games to go in the 2019-20 season, a lot has still to be decided in the Bundesliga. Unfortunately, the title race looks to have reached its normal, expected climax with Bayern Munich now seven points clear at the top of the table.
Bayern's title rivals have already admitted defeat to Hansi Flick's side, who still have plenty to play for in the remaining four matchdays. Flick has already bettered Pep Guardiola's start in Munich, winning 22 of his first 25 games, compared to Guardiola's 21 in 25, and added another win in his 26th game at the weekend.
Due to Niko Kovac's inconsistent form as Bayern head coach earlier in the season, the record points tally is an impossible target, but Flick's men are just 11 goals away from equalling the Bundesliga record for most goals in a single season – 101 set back in 1971-72 by the Bayern Munich side who went on to win three consecutive European Cups later that decade.
With first wrapped up, the real battle near the top of the table is to see who joins the Bavarians in next season's Champions League. Borussia Dortmund currently sit in second and should find themselves taking one of the four positions on offer. They have a couple of winnable games against Fortuna Dusseldorf and Mainz before a crucial clash away to RB Leipzig on June 20.
That game could have huge implications for both teams' final position as just four points separate second and third at the moment, while there is only seven points between coming second and coming fifth – and missing out on the Champions League – as things currently stand.
Dortmund have missed Erling Haaland and Marco Reus in recent weeks, but Lucien Favre will be hopeful to have both players back by the time of the Leipzig game. Jadon Sancho is back in the starting XI after recovering from injury and does not look to have let rumours of a move to the Premier League to join Manchester United have any impact on his on-field performances.
? Der Ball, mein Schatten und ich. pic.twitter.com/Jd4DOYTNA9
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) June 12, 2020
Emre Can was signed with Haaland in January and has proven to be almost as influential, scoring the only goal as Dortmund beat a Hertha Berlin side who have been reborn under Bruno Labbadia. Despite struggling for much of the season, Hertha find themselves in contention for a European spot of their own and take on the two other top-five clubs in the final two weeks of the season.
Those games will also play a major part in determining who else joins Bayern Munich in the Champions League, with Bayer Leverkusen travelling to Berlin on Jun 20 and Borussia Monchengladbach hosting Hertha seven days later on the final day of the season.
As it stands, Borussia Monchengladbach hold the fourth and final Champions League spot, but only on goal difference ahead of Leverkusen. Gladbach's biggest obstacle in getting into the top four is likely to be this Saturday evening's “Topspiele”, a massive clash with Bayern Munich.
Suspensions to both Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller should give Gladbach a fighting chance, but they will also be without a key forward themselves as Alassane Plea picked up a red card last weekend as they lost 1-0 to Freiburg.
Leverkusen's fixtures are more favourable, but much will depend on the availability of their own in-demand attacker. Kai Havertz missed the 4-2 defeat to Bayern due to muscular problems and will need to be back on the pitch in the next few weeks to help Peter Bosz's side get into the top four.
This weekend's clash with Schalke should be very winnable thanks to the Royal Blues' dreadful form in 2020, but a midweek clash with Koln and then that Hertha game look much trickier on paper.
In summary, final standings could look like:
1. Bayern Munich ?
2. Borussia Dortmund ?
3. RB Leipzig ?
4. Bayer Leverkusen
All is to play for in the last four games of the season, and although the title race is not one for the history books, the race for the top four should be epic.