Examination Weekend

Previewing the local sports scene

March 4 - Big day for Munich, it's the final evaluation day for the city's bid to host the 2018 Winter Games.  The decision will be made by the IOC on July 6th from Durban, South Africa.  Also on the docket, major tests for all the local clubs and here's your preview.

End of the line for van Gaal? - Two losses consecutively are never regarded lightly at Säbener Strasse.  But when those losses are in key matches that can make or break a season, including losing a possible title, then expect the temperatures to rise at FC Bayern München.

The loss on Saturday against Dortmund eliminated Munich from the title race.  On Wednesday night, a frustrating performance in the German Cup semifinal against Schalke prevented the team from defending their title in May.  Bayern are still alive in this year's Champions League and currently lead Milan 1-0 in aggregrate with the all-important away goal tie-breaker.

But before the return match on March 15th at the Allianz Arena, Bayern need to qualify for next year's Champions League.  And standing in their way is this weekend's opponent Hannover 96, who sit 2 point clear of Munich for the competition's qualification spot for the Bundesliga.  A loss at AWD Arena would make it a tougher hill to climb, and may lead to a change.

Bayern management have been tight lipped regarding the future of Louis van Gaal as the head coach for the remainder of the season if they are to lose their third important match in a row, and be eliminated from another competition.

A season removed after winning a double and a match away from the elusive treble, van Gaal finds himself in hot water.  It was only a week ago, Bayern were third in the table and rising, enjoying a win at the San Siro, and van Gaal was secure.  Now the question is not whether if he will be gone, but when?  Will he be left behind in Hannover, or after the Inter Milan match 10 days later?

Haching hope to defend Cup
- For the third consecutive year, Generali Haching will play for the German Cup in volleyball.  And they can win it for the third consecutive year if they can beat their rivals and defending league champions VfB Friedrichshafen Sunday.  First serve is at 15:30 in the Gerry Weber Stadium in Halle/Westfalen.

Haching are the two-time defending Cup champions, defeating Friedrichshafen in the semifinals back in 2009 en route to their first one.  VfB hold the upper hand between the two clubs, defeating Haching in the league playoffs the last FIVE years.

"It's terrible to always lose to them in the finals," lamented Libero player Ferdinand Tille.  "Something has to change."

Friedrichshafen currently lead the Volleyball Bundesliga, only dropping 3 sets - all three against Haching in a loss on December 5th.

"VfB are the toughest opponent anyone can have in a final," said head coach Mihai Paduretu.  "They have won every match in the league 3-0.  But if there is one team that can beat them, it's us."

300 Haching fans are expected to make the trip north.  For those who cannot and would like to follow the action, the match will be live in the Internet at www.cpm24.tv

Lions looking for home victory - TSV 1860 München were unbeatable at home in the fall.  Now three months after their last home win, an impressive 1-0 victory against current Bundesliga second division leaders Hertha Berlin on December 5th, the Lions host Red-White Oberhausen and hope to start a new win streak at the Allianz Arena.  Kickoff is this evening at 18:00.

Promotion is no longer possible for the club, but survival - both financially and staying in the second division of the Bundesliga - are clear goals for a season that started with such promise.

Last weekend's win against 1.FC Union Berlin was a sigh of relief for the club, and hopefully a chance to turn things around on the pitch.  The 1-0 win was earned in the 88th minute by rising young star Kevin Volland.  Along with Benjamin Lauth, 1860 have two potent scorers that can give Oberhausen fits.  Here's hoping some home-cooking will bring the Lions some well-needed satisfaction.

EHC travel to Augsburg for Derby - EHC München are in the home stretch of the regular season and the race for playoff seedings has tighten up.  With only 4 games left, and the next three on the road, Munich need to get back to the sixth seed or higher to earn a bye from the pre-playoffs.

EHC have not played for a week, and actually won their last two matches, but other teams have passed them on the table.  They are actually closer to falling out of the playoff race all together, only 4 points separate them from being eliminated.

And it starts tonight against local rival Augsburg Panthers, face off at 20:20 at the outdoor Curt Frenzel Stadium.  The Panthers sit at the bottom of the table but beat Munich 2-1 back on January 30th.

Bayern Basketball plan to stay on course - Head coach Dirk Bauermann's task is probably the toughest at this moment.  The team is sitting on top of the ProA, the second division of the Basketball Bundesliga, and promotion is evident.  He's done his job there.  But to keep the team from complacency and stay focused to win the ProA will define the rest of the season.

The Knights from Kirchheim unter Teck visit 'Munich Square Garden' Sunday hoping to derail the hottest team in the league.  Bayern have won 16 games in a row, but the Knights proved they could engineer an upset.  Back on November 13th, it took Bayern 100 points to defeat Kirchheim at a sold out gym.  They were pushed to the limit and it took a 17-point 4th quarter burst by Jonathan Wallace and a key 3-pointer by Bastian Doreth to secure the win.

Full wrap of all the action on Monday.


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