Dortmund hosts Nuremberg, Bayern in Stuttgart

NESHA STARCEVIC AP Sports Writer Published:

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- According to Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich needs to remain vigilant despite its massive lead in the Bundesliga because one defeat would be enough to increase the pressure.

Bayern can be confident before its Sunday visit to Stuttgart, where it has not lost since 2007. Bayern's closet challenger, Bayer Leverkusen, has a trickier trip to Freiburg on Saturday.

Defending champion Borussia Dortmund is 12 points behind the leaders and hosts Nuremberg on Friday.

Dortmund began the second half of the season last weekend with a 5-0 rout of Werder in Bremen, bringing back memories of its spectacular run last season when it won 15 of its last 17 games, drew two and won its second championship eight points ahead of Bayern. But Dortmund was even on points with Bayern at this time last year.

Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp has all but written off his team's chances of winning its third straight championship and says second place is now the target.

But Ribery says the race is not over.

"If we continue to play with such seriousness and desire, we are going to get the title. But we have to remain careful because only one defeat and the pressure will grow," the France midfielder told Thursday's edition of Kicker magazine.

"We are happy that we finally have Dortmund behind us. But we want to be champions and Dortmund remains dangerous. You must never underestimate Dortmund."

Ribery, who described himself as "one of the best and most important players in the world" and complained that he had again missed out on being voted France's player of the year, said the Bundesliga title remained Bayern's main target for the season -- not the Champions League.

"When a club such as Bayern fails to win the title in Germany two years in a row, then this title is the most important," Ribery said.

Ribery, saying he was "better than ever" and that Bayern was one of the top three clubs in the world, added the team owed it to coach Jupp Heynckes to win the title.

Heynckes is leaving at the end of the season to make way for Pep Guardiola, Bayern's spectacular signing this month.

Bayern, coming off a routine 2-0 win over last-place Greuther Fuerth, plays a Stuttgart team that lost 2-0 at Wolfsburg and is 10th in the standings. Stuttgart will have striker Vedad Ibisevic back after suspension.

Dortmund had the best home record last season, but this time it's only eighth best.

"We've only collected 14 points at home and our job is to change that," Klopp said.

His team should improve that record against Nuremberg, which hasn't won in Dortmund in 22 years.

While Bayern and Dortmund focus on each other, Leverkusen has enjoyed a consistent season and has 11 wins, two more than Dortmund.

Leverkusen dominated Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 last weekend but Freiburg, with a tiny budget and no major stars, is one of the success stories of the season and is sixth in the standings.

Also on Saturday, Borussia Moenchengladbach hosts Fortuna Duesseldorf, Wolfsburg visits Hannover, Augsburg plays Schalke, Greuther Fuerth meets Mainz and Eintracht faces Hoffenheim.

On Sunday, Hamburger SV hosts Werder Bremen in the northern derby.