Berlin: Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes saw his team stretch their Bundesliga lead to 15 points with a 4-0 rout of Schalke and attributed the success to the players’ sense of fun.
With second-placed Borussia Dortmund earlier losing 4-1 at home to Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen drawing 3-3 at Moenchengladbach, the title is now Bayern’s to lose after Saturday night’s dominant display at the Allianz Arena.
“You can see the players are having fun and it is a pleasure to coach this team,” said Heynckes, who will step down at the end of the season.
“Of course we had registered the other results before the game, the players are focused on the big target of winning the German title and we have to keep working. There are still a few things we can work on and can still perfect.”
Bayern last won silverware when Louis van Gaal steered them to the league and cup double in May 2010, but Heynckes is set to bow out with the Bundesliga title before ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola takes over on July 1.
Left-back David Alaba claimed two goals — a first-half penalty followed by a strike from a pass by Germany striker Mario Gomez, who later scored one of his own.
Germany star Bastian Schweinsteiger also curled in a free-kick to prove he is over the ankle knock that kept him out of Wednesday’s friendly win over France.
“The most important thing was picking up the three points,” said Austria’s Alaba. “We had fun and joked in the dressing room. You could see that on the pitch.”
With such a huge lead, Bayern can afford to look ahead to their meeting with Arsenal in the Champions League last-16 later this month.
“That was a super Saturday for us, long may it continue,” said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm. “Of course, you pay attention to what your rivals are doing, but we are just looking at us.”
Having enjoyed 70 per cent possession, Munich lived up to German daily Bild’s mocking headline ‘Bayern are having open training today against Schalke’, with the Royal Blues having won just once in their last nine league games.
It proved to be prophetic as Schalke’s lone striker Teemu Pukki found himself hopelessly isolated up front.
“The road to the title is still long, but we’re having fun,” said Brazil defender Dante, who made his international debut in the defeat to England at Wembley on Wednesday. “You could see we were fully focused on the game. We knew that it was important to get a result.”