Scent of surrender as Frankfurt head to Bayern
There is the unmistakable scent of surrender about relegation-threatened Eintracht Frankfurt's trip to runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Sunday.
European champions Bayern went into the weekend's matches with a 13-point lead at the top and it seems only a matter of time before they are confirmed German champions for the 24th time.
Bayern can extend their record unbeaten league run to 44 matches at Munich's Allianz Arena while, at the other end of the table, 14th-placed Frankfurt came into the weekend just two points above the relegation play-off place.
And with a home match against bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig looming next weekend, Frankfurt coach Armin Veh has opted to leave out two of his key players for the trip to Munich.
Neither midfielder Sebastian Rode, who will join Bayern at the end of the season, nor central defender Carlos Zambrano will feature with Veh making it clear he does not want to risk either being suspended for the must-win match against Braunschweig.
"One of them has four yellow cards, the other had nine yellow cards," explained Veh, with five bookings meaning a one-match suspension, while 10 mean missing two league matches.
"I weigh things up as the match against Eintracht Braunschweig, a direct competitor, already has a different status."
Frankfurt have found some form of late with their first home win of the season coming last Saturday against Hertha Berlin following a draw with Augsburg and a shock win at Bayer Leverkusen in December.
Bayern, meanwhile, came within 14 minutes of losing their first league match since October 2012 when they needed two late goals, including a stunning winner from Thiago Alcantara, to salvage a 2-1 win at Stuttgart on Wednesday.
Veh said he does not expect his opposite number Pep Guardiola to field a weakened side in Munich and Bayern are set to welcome back star wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.
The pair sat out training on Wednesday nursing leg injuries, but both played a full part on Thursday, and Guardiola has said he will decide whether either will play in the final training session.
Just like last season, Bayern are sending records tumbling left, right and centre.
The win in Stuttgart set a new league record of 28 away games unbeaten and their 13-point lead after 18 matches is another Bundesliga best.
Bayern are now chasing an 18th straight home victory, with their own record of 26, set in the 1970s, coming increasingly under threat.
"Having won both our two league games (of 2014) makes things easier and we want to maintain the trend," said Thomas Mueller.
This will be Bayern's first home game of the year and following that they have a run of three games against sides who are all in the bottom four places.