The Future is Wide Open

Weekend Preview of Munich's top local clubs in action

All the local clubs are in action this weekend, and all the matches have future implications that will determine each club's sporting fates.  Here's your preview.

Home stretch - EHC München have clinched a spot in the playoffs in their first year in the DEL and that has brought deserved recognition to the club.

EHC Sporting Director Christian Winkler was named "Manager of the Year" by the publication "Eishockey News", as voted by coaches, managers and journalists.  "This is a great honor for me and for the club," said Mr. Winkler.  "But without this team, this success would not be possible.  This award is motivation to achieve more."

Before the team can move on to the playoffs, the club will look to improve their seeding over the weekend, which starts with a visit Friday night to four-time DEL champions Berlin Ice Bears.

Munich hope to avoid the pre-playoff round, by extending their winning streak to 5 games and securing their position on the table.  It won't be easy as Berlin play at o2 World and expect close to the 17,000 in capacity.  Berlin have won two of the three meetings between the clubs so far, including a 4-2 win in front of 14,100 fans back on October 30th.

Taking the ice for EHC will be first-year forward Martin Buchwieser who was also recognized for his accomplishments.  The "Rookie of the Year" played 47 games and scored 20 goals and dished out 23 assists, and he has scored in all of the games against Berlin.

Munich will play their final home game on Sunday afternoon at the Olympia Eissportzentrum against local rivals ERC Ingolstadt.  The match is sold out and over 6,000 fans are expected to attend.  Ingolstadt currently sit only 2 points behind Munich.  The match faces off at 14:30.  Follow the action as TMT's Gabriel Nounna will be there, tweeting @gabe_TMT_sports.

Clear Focus, Full Stadium... Can't Lose? - My apologies to "Friday Night Lights" fans, the saying is actually 'clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose' but that's a stretch for FC Bayern München at this point of the season.  After three consecutive losses, it's not clear if the club has the vision nor the heart to compete and win.

Cover your eyes, it could get worseHowever, what is clear, head coach Louis van Gaal will be a lame-duck leader for the remainder of the season and will try to get Bayern back into Champions League qualification for next season.  Only two years ago, the club fired the head coach when it was evident the coach had lost the clubhouse and they had to battle to get back up the table.

Jupp Heynckes took over for embattled Jürgen Klinsmann and got the team back into the Europe's top competition.  This year, with no clear candidate available to take over and the unsettling 'when will he be fired?' talk over the past weeks, the club decided to part ways with van Gaal in July and hopes this team can focus on the task at hand.

Allianz Arena will be sold out again for this classic match that kicks off 15:30 on Saturday afternoon.  Hamburger SV sit 5 points behind FCB in the Bundesliga table, a win will give them a chance for a berth in the Europa League and keep Bayern further in turmoil.

Win or lose, Bayern will have a quick turn-around as they will host the second leg of the Champions League knockout phase Tuesday night against defending champions Inter Milan.  Match is sold out but on free TV, kicking off at 20:45.

Litmus Net Test - Generali Haching have accomplished one of their goals of the season by winning the DVV Cup over rivals VfB Friedsrichshafen last weekend.  On Saturday night, they face their next test, although with not so much at stake.

Haching look to repeat their cup featHaching travel to the Bodensee to take on the same Friedsrichshafen at ZF Arena and see if they can put aside their cup victory and get back to Bundesliga action.  Currently both clubs sit atop the table and hope to get the upper hand with the playoffs coming the next month.

"Whoever wins on Saturday, they are not automatically the champions; whoever loses, they can still become champions," said Haching coach Mihai Paduretu.  "The playoffs will decide all that."

First serve at 19:30.  The match can be seen live and free on www.cpm24.tv

Champagne on Ice? - FC Bayern Basketball are on a smooth path to promotion to the Basketball Bundesliga, and a win Saturday night can realize their dreams.  But head coach Dirk Bauermann would not mind to hold off celebrations one more week.

Bayern travel to Crailsheim Saturday night to take on the Merlins to extend their 17 game win streak and reach their first goal - promotion.  The next would be to win the championship of the ProA, the second division of the basketball league.

"If we are to celebrate, it should be with our fans," commented Bauermann after last week's win against Kirchheim.  "Without them, we would not be where we are today."

Bayern return to Munich Square Garden on Saturday, March 19th to host BG Karlsruhe.

Surviving extinction - Lions are not an endangered species (yet) but the football version in Munich are fighting for their professional existence.

Surviving togetherTSV 1860 München are closer to relegation from the second division of the Bundesliga than promotion back to the top flight.  A few more lost weeks and the club can slip further into danger.

On Sunday the Lions travel to SchücoArena and take on DSC Arminia Bielefeld, who are the worst team in German professional football.  They have lost 18 of 25 matches this season and recently suffered through a 12-match winless streak.  A 2-1 victory last week at Duisburg won't save them from relegation into the nether divisions of football.

One would think TSV can take all three points.  They are quite solid on the road.  However, Bielefeld were able to hold Munich to a goalless draw on October 23rd.

"To win this game, we will have to give it the college try on the pitch from the start to the end of the game, and keep our recent positive away form," strategized head coach Reiner Maurer.  "We do not have to forget that they are in good shape, after their win against Duisburg."  The match kicks off at 13:30.

Gabriel Nounna and Marco Menolfi contributed to this article.


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