Previews: Klose back for Bayern title push

BERLIN - Defending champions Bayern Munich will welcome striker Miroslav Klose back from injury this weekend as they prepare for the last two matches of a thrilling Bundesliga title scrap. Bayern (63 points) sit behind leaders VfL Wolfsburg on goal difference and face a Hoffenheim side on Saturday who led the league at the halfway mark of their debut season in the top flight before dropping down the table after the winter break.

Klose returns to action after two months out with an ankle injury and Bayern will be hoping the striker can hit the ground running if they are to emerge on top of a titanic tussle where the top four sides are separated by a mere two points.

Hertha Berlin sit just behind the leading duo on 62 points with VfB Stuttgart a further point adrift in fourth place.

"Whoever loses a game now will probably play in the UEFA Cup (Europa League) next season," said Bayern interim coach Jupp Heynckes, who took over when Jurgen Klinsmann was sacked with five matches remaining.

Heynckes was hired to salvage an automatic Champions League berth out of a disappointing season but has kept Bayern in the title race and believes anything could still happen.

"Calculation and speculation are totally out of place. We just have to concentrate on our next game," Heynckes said.

Hoffenheim could provide a stiff test if they can rediscover the early-season form that took the Bundesliga by storm at the end of last year.


However, a 12-match winless streak at the start of 2009 took the wind out of their sails and delighted a Bayern side that had accused their newly promoted rivals of arrogance in a bitter war-of-words that rumbled on for the first half of the season.

Seventh-placed Hoffenheim have since recovered with two wins and are eager to avenge their stoppage time defeat to Bayern in December.

Leaders Wolfsburg travel to Hanover 96 in what could be a high-scoring affair against a side that have just secured top flight soccer for next season.

Wolfsburg strikers Brazilian Grafite and Bosnian Edin Dzeko have been a formidable force with a combined 46 goals and are expected to flourish against the worst defence in the league.

Third-placed Hertha Berlin remain in the hunt for a first championship since 1931, and they take on a Schalke side eager to end a disappointing season as quickly as possible before current Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath takes over.

Stuttgart also welcome back leading striker Mario Gomez from a minor muscle injury and they should prove too strong for Energie Cottbus, who are battling to avoid relegation.