Thursday, March 5, 2009

Germany: A Race Worth Watching

Don't expect a collection of thrilling finishes in Europe's domestic leagues this spring. Manchester United and Inter Milan enjoy robust seven-point advantages in England and Italy. Barcelona's four-point cushion at the top of La Liga appears safe, although Barca must navigate a trip to second-place Real Madrid in May. For a wide-open race, Germany's Bundesliga is the league to watch this spring.

Hertha Berlin, seeking their first-ever Bundesliga title, currently hold a one-point lead over Hamburg and a two-point lead over TSG Hoffenheim, a side that were playing in the third division just two seasons ago. Wolfsburg and defending champions Bayern Munich are only four points off the pace. Four other sides are within 10 points of first with 12 games remaining.

Berlin face a tough finishing schedule, with road tests at Hoffenheim and Hamburg on consecutive Saturdays in late April/early May. Hamburg hosts Hoffenheim on April 4th and have a manageable schedule that could lead to their first league title since 1983, the same season they won their lone European Cup.

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