One down, two to go for treble-chasing Bayern

BERLIN - Bayern Munich could not have asked for a better setting to become Bundesliga champions for the 22nd time than the majestic Olympic Stadium where they face relegated Hertha Berlin in the season finale on Saturday.

The Bavarians are three points clear of second-placed Schalke 04, who have a far inferior goal difference, and should complete the first leg of their quest for an unprecedented Germany treble of league, German Cup and Champions League titles.

It will also be a perfect dress rehearsal for Bayern's second act, the German Cup final against Werder Bremen, in the same stadium in Berlin only eight days later.

Bayern are also in the Champions League final, facing Italy's Inter Milan in Madrid on May 22.

"We must now keep the foot on the gas," Bayern captain Mark van Bommel told reporters on Thursday. "If you take it off it is difficult to reach that speed again."

The Dutch midfielder, who will become the first foreign Bayern captain to lift the Bundesliga trophy, said the players now had the "chance of a lifetime".

"Whoever does not get it now will never get it: we have the chance to make history and crown an outstanding season with three titles. This is a chance of a lifetime," Van Bommel said.

While Bayern will be lifting the championship's silver bowl into the Berlin sky, Hertha will be enduring opposite emotions.

The match against Bayern is always a highlight for the Berlin fans and this game was sold out half a year in advance.

This time however it will only mark the bitter and unexpected end of Hertha's Bundesliga presence as the capital will be without a top flight club next season.

"We will have the chance to thank some 75,000 fans in the game against Bayern for their fantastic support all season," said Hertha manager Michael Preetz. "They have been exceptional all season."

With Schalke having securing the second Champions League spot, Werder Bremen, in third place will be hoping to stay there and compete in the Champions League qualification.

Werder, on 60 points, take on bitter northern rivals Hamburg SV and a draw should be enough to secure third place ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, who have 58 points and travel to Borussia Moenchengladbach.

One of Hanover 96, Nuremberg and VfL Bochum will join Hertha on the way down and another of them will have to battle it out in a relegation play-off with a second division team.

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