Five things to look for in the Bundesliga

Bayern Munich want a goal-fest against bottom-side Darmstadt, Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund lock horns in the battle for third place and RB Leipzig hope to have striker Timo Werner fit.Here are five things to look out for in this weekend’s Bundeslig…

Bayern Munich want a goal-fest against bottom-side Darmstadt, Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund lock horns in the battle for third place and RB Leipzig hope to have striker Timo Werner fit.

Here are five things to look out for in this weekend's Bundesliga:

Bayern's baby boom

With a fifth-straight title confirmed, Thomas Mueller says Bayern Munich want to put on a show against bottom side Darmstadt to celebrate the squad's new arrivals.

The Bayern family grew by two as both attacking midfielder Thiago Alcantara and striker Robert Lewandowski became fathers this week.

Lewandowski has 28 goals, one ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, in the race to be the Bundesliga's top scorer.

Bayern were confirmed 2016/17 champions after hammering Wolfsburg last weekend.

"We have two home games left so we want to do something for the fans and offer a good show," said Mueller.

"We want to show we are number one and Lewy still has the possibility of being top-scorer again."

RB's Werner digs deep

RB Leipzig's top-scorer Timo Werner, who has scored 17 league goals, will push through the pain barrier for Saturday's away match at Hertha Berlin.

The 21-year-old Germany international limped out of Leipzig's goalless draw against Ingolstadt last weekend with a badly bruised leg.

"He is not completely pain free, but it'll be nice if we have our most dangerous player on the pitch," said Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.

Leipzig are on the verge of becoming the first Bundesliga club since Kaiserslautern in 1998 to qualify for a direct Champions League place straight after promotion.

They need Werner fit with Hertha having dropped only seven points this season at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

Nagelsmann's mind-games

Borussia Dortmund and Saturday's visitors Hoffenheim are vying for a direct Champions League place next season -- and the mind-games have already begun.

"It's simply like this - Borussia Dortmund are under the greater pressure and they know that," said Hoffenheim's coach Julian Nagelsmann, whose side is third -- one point ahead of Dortmund.

With three games left, the team which finishes third will go straight into the Champions League draw while fourth means a play-off.

"We have the form, the self-confidence and the mentality to give us a home win," replied Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

Japan's Shinji Kagawa, Gonzalo Castro and Portugal's Raphael Guerreiro are all vying for places in Dortmund's attacking midfield while Nagelsmann has a full squad to chose from.

Hamburg battle historic drop

As the only current Bundesliga club to have never been relegated, Hamburg face an uphill battle to avoid the dreaded drop at home to Mainz on Sunday.

Markus Gisdol's team are 16th, which means an end-of-season relegation play-off against the team which finishes third in division two and both Mainz and Hamburg have 33 points.

Gisdol has thrown ex-club captain Johan Djourou out of the squad for giving a critical interview and the ex-Arsenal defender is set to leave when his contract expires in June.

Hamburg were hammered 4-0 at Augsburg last weekend while Mainz have won just two of their last ten games.

Darmstadt refuse to surrender

Although Darmstadt have won their last three games, defeat to Bayern at the Allianz Arena on Saturday will confirm their relegation, but coach Torsten Frings will not go down without a fight.

"We don't want to surrender in Munich, instead we want to give the best account of ourselves," said Frings, an ex-Germany midfielder who won the 2004/05 Bundesliga title with Bayern.

"There are always miracles and we want to make life as difficult as possible for Bayern," he added with his team seven points from safety.

However, Darmstadt need a near-miracle to beat Bayern.

They lost 3-1 in February 2016, their only previous appearance at Munich's Allianz Arena, and have never beaten Bayern in seven previous meetings.

Fixtures

Friday (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)

Cologne v Werder Bremen (1830)

Saturday

Bayern Munich v Darmstadt, Borussia Dortmund v Hoffenheim, Borussia Moenchengladbach v Augsburg, Ingolstadt v Bayer Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt v Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin v RB Leipzig (1630)

Sunday

Hamburg v Mainz, Freiburg v Schalke (1530)

Khedira ice cool as treble-chasing Juve sight scudetto

Cool-headed midfielder Sami Khedira has called for focus as treble-chasing Juventus seek to wrap up a record Serie A title with a derby win over Torino.A Juventus win on Saturday, coupled with a Roma defeat at Europa League-chasing AC Milan on Sunday, …

Cool-headed midfielder Sami Khedira has called for focus as treble-chasing Juventus seek to wrap up a record Serie A title with a derby win over Torino.

A Juventus win on Saturday, coupled with a Roma defeat at Europa League-chasing AC Milan on Sunday, would take the champions' lead over the capital side to 12 points with three games to play.

But securing a record sixth consecutive scudetto, says Khedira, is just one step on a road that he hopes will see Juventus claim an unprecedented club treble, seven years after Jose Mourinho achieved the feat with Inter Milan, in 2010.

The 32-times Italian champions face Lazio in the Italian Cup final next month and, after a 2-0 win over Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, look to have one foot in the Cardiff final.

Germany midfielder Khedira, who sat Wednesday's win due to suspension, insisted there is still plenty of work to do.

"The fans have a dream, which is the same as ours," Khedira said Thursday. "But we are not dreamers, and if we want to go all the way we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us.

"The derby is a kind of match-point for us. If we win at home, even though Roma still have to play the next day, we will be closer to one of our objectives.

"Then we want to win the Italian Cup against Lazio, a great side that we've already beaten twice (this season) and who we want to beat again."

After seeing Gonzalo Higuain hit a brace at the Stade Louis II, coach Massimiliano Allegri is set to make several changes for the visit of Torino.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who made a string of fine saves to thwart the French league leaders, could make way for number two Norberto Neto, with Allegri also likely to tinker with his four-man defence.

"We'll be ready for the derby on Saturday," Allegri said after Wednesday's win. "I have a squad that permits me to make a few changes."

Yet the 49-year-old coach is unlikely to change a potent attacking line featuring Higuain, Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala.

Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was in attendance to see Juventus triumph in Monaco, and Allegri added: "I don't know what he thought. The derby is an important fixture, but it's more important to us because it gives us the chances to edge even closer to the scudetto."

Although the odds are stacked in favour of Juventus, who have beaten Torino three times in succession since a rare defeat at the end of the 2015 season, Torino fans can realistically dream of an upset.

Striker Andrea Belotti, a reported target for Manchester United and Chelsea, is battling Roma striker Edin Dzeko for the coveted 'Capocanoniere' top scorer's award.

Both are tied at the top on 25 goals, with Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan) on 24 and Higuain still in contention, a year after triumphing thanks to a new Serie A record of 36 goals, on 23 so far this season.

Roma travel to the San Siro days after sporting director Monchi inadvertantly confirmed that club icon Francesco Totti, 40, would retire at the end of the season before taking up a management role.

It remains to be seen how the Giallorossi react on the pitch, but with Milan desperately needing a win to boost their Europa League qualifying hopes Luciano Spalletti's visitors can ill afford to drop points.

Napoli, only one point behind in third place, will move into the league's second automatic Champions League qualifying spot with a win at home to Cagliari on Saturday.

Fixtures (GMT)

Saturday

Napoli v Cagliari (1600), Juventus v Torino (1845)

Sunday

Udinese v Atalanta (1030), Chievo v Palermo, Empoli v Bologna, Genoa v Inter Milan, Lazio v Sampdoria, Pescara v Crotone, Sassuolo v Fiorentina (all 1400), AC Milan v Roma (1845)

Monaco revert to title chase after Euro blow

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim has called on his players to put their Champions League disappointment out of their minds and take a big step towards securing the French title when they go to Nancy on Saturday. The principality side look set to bow out of…

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim has called on his players to put their Champions League disappointment out of their minds and take a big step towards securing the French title when they go to Nancy on Saturday.

The principality side look set to bow out of the Champions League in the semi-finals after losing 2-0 at home to a superior Juventus at the Stade Louis II in Wednesday's first leg.

Only two sides have ever recovered from losing the first leg at home to win a Champions League tie, but that is what Monaco have to do now in the return next Tuesday.

Things are rather more straightforward in Ligue 1, where Monaco sit three points clear of Paris Saint-Germain and six ahead of Nice with a game in hand on their two pursuers.

Given their better goal difference, two wins from their last four matches should suffice for Monaco to secure a first French championship since 2000.

"The best thing to do now is think about Nancy. A win there would give us a great chance to win the league," said Portuguese coach Jardim.

"We have an advantage in the league but nothing is won yet so my message to the players is to go out and win the next match. It is not true that PSG or Nice are out of it."

It has already been a memorable season for Monaco, who are the first French club to reach the last four of Europe's elite competition in seven years. But the league has always been the main priority.

"Our run in the Champions League is something extraordinary. We have to be proud of it. It is greater than winning a Cup," added Jardim.

"The players need 72 hours to recuperate, which they don't have to prepare for Nancy. As always we will send out the most competitive team we can."

Monaco won 6-0 at home to Nancy earlier in the season and it is hard to see them slipping up at the Stade Marcel-Picot against opponents who lie in the relegation zone, even if marauding left-back Benjamin Mendy will miss the game with the hamstring problem that also ruled him out in midweek.

- Draxler: 'Bounce back' -

PSG need Monaco to slip up after a 3-1 defeat away to Nice last weekend reduced their prospects of winning a fifth consecutive title.

Unai Emery's men entertain bottom side Bastia at the Parc des Princes on Saturday afternoon and will do so without both Thiago Motta and Angel Di Maria after they were sent off in Nice.

"It's not easy starting the week after a loss, but we are professionals and we need to keep working to bounce back, to get back to our best and produce the best possible performance against Bastia this Saturday," PSG's Germany star Julian Draxler told the club's website.

Beating PSG kept alive Nice's chances of leapfrogging the capital side and snatching automatic Champions League qualification.

However, Nice -- whose leading scorer Mario Balotelli was at the Stade Louis II for Monaco's clash with Juventus -- are not likely to have it easy this weekend as they travel to face Europa League chasers Marseille at the Velodrome.

Nice have not lost in 12 games but Marseille are one of four sides fighting it out for two Europa League places.

Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux play each other on Friday while Lyon, currently fourth, must rouse themselves for a home clash with Nantes after a 4-1 defeat away to Ajax in their Europa League semi-final first leg all but ended their dreams of winning that competition.

Fixtures (GMT)

Friday

Saint-Etienne v Bordeaux (1845)

Saturday

Paris Saint-Germain v Bastia (1500), Guingamp v Dijon, Lille v Metz, Lorient v Angers, Nancy v Monaco, Toulouse v Caen (all 1800)

Sunday

Rennes v Montpellier (1300), Lyon v Nantes (1500), Marseille v Nice (1900)

US urges SE Asia allies to shun North Korea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged his South East Asian colleagues on Thursday to take further steps to isolate North Korea’s pariah regime.President Donald Trump’s top diplomat met foreign ministers and top envoys from the 10-strong Association…

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged his South East Asian colleagues on Thursday to take further steps to isolate North Korea's pariah regime.

President Donald Trump's top diplomat met foreign ministers and top envoys from the 10-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Washington.

North Korea is under UN sanctions targeting its efforts to develop a nuclear missile arsenal, but Washington wants its Asian allies to do more.

Deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Patrick Murphy told reporters that North Korea's foreign missions are suspiciously large.

These embassies, he suggested, are not just diplomatic bases but serve to help Pyongyang illegally to evade sanctions and to carry out other "nefarious acts."

And he cited as an example the murder with a nerve agent in February of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's brother Kim Jong-Nam in a Malaysian airport.

"And so countries have agreed, and in some cases have limited the size or reduced the size of the North Korean diplomatic presence in their countries," Murphy said.

"Some countries are taking a look at the presence of North Korean workers, which, again, is another revenue stream for North Korea, and is this appropriate."

Murphy stressed ties with Pyongyang are a sovereign matter for ASEAN states, but confirmed that Tillerson had urged them to review their positions.

"I do believe some countries are taking a look at their presence in North Korea and trying to assess if it's appropriate or not," he added.