BERLIN: In the wake of their shock defeat in Basel, Bayern Munich need to beat title rivals Schalke 04 tomorrow to ease their growing crisis and bridge the gap behind German league leaders Dortmund.
Having already knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League, FC Basel added Bayern's scalp on Wednesday as a late goal sealed their 1-0 win in the Round of 16 first-leg with the return leg in Munich in a fortnight.
The Bavarians have claimed just three wins in their last seven games and slipped from top to third in the German league, while their Champions League progress this season is far from assured.
The arrival of fourth-placed Schalke, who are just a point behind Bayern, will test fragile confidence and the hosts need a good result plus a strong performance at Munich's Allianz Arena.
"We are in a very difficult period, you can see that in every single player," admitted striker Mario Gomez with Munich four points behind Dortmund.
Schalke are in form following their 4-0 hammering of Wolfsburg last Sunday, while Bayern's goalless draw at Freiburg last Saturday was a precursor to what followed in Basel.
Bayern's season hinges on the next few weeks.
On consecutive weekends, they face Schalke and Leverkusen, who are both in the Bundesliga's top six, then the Champions League return leg against Basel in Munich on March 13 followed by the German Cup semi-final at Moenchengladbach on March 23.
While Bayern are faltering, Dortmund are hunting their seventh straight win at home to Hanover.
With a three-point gap at the top, Dortmund are buoyed by the news Japan star Shinji Kagawa is poised to return just 10 days after damaging ankle ligaments in training.
TODAY: Cologne v Bayer Leverkusen, VfB Stuttgart v Freiburg, Mainz 05 v Kaiserslautern, VfL Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim, Augsburg v Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen v Nuremberg; TOMORROW: Bayern Munich v Schalke 04, Borussia Dortmund v Hanover 96. AFP