Bundesliga title race alive and well, claims Guardiola

Pep Guardiola is not paying any attention to Borussia Dortmund's Europa League diversions as he expects the race for the Bundesliga title to go down to the wire.

The Bayern Munich coach is preparing his side for a trip to Stuttgart on Saturday, where a win would open up an eight-point advantage over Dortmund at the top.

The Westphalians are then in action on Sunday, but not only do they face a perilous local derby at Schalke, but their coach Thomas Tuchel has already announced he intends to rotate his team for that fixture.

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Weakened or not, Guardiola is not counting on Dortmund throwing away the derby in favour of progressing in the Europa League after their 1-1 draw with Liverpool in the first leg of the quarter-finals on Thursday.

"We were almost champions this time last year, while we already were the year before, but this season we've got to win our games if we want to defend our title," he said at a press conference on Friday.

"I'm certain Dortmund will travel to Schalke and win there, so we've also got to win.

"I would love to be champions already so that I could focus on the Champions League and the DFB-Pokal, but what's happening now is normal.

"What happened in the last three years was not normal. We've got to win four and draw one of our last six games."

Guardiola must also strike a balance between focusing on beating Stuttgart and ensuring they are in the best possible shape for a trip to Lisbon on Wednesday, when they have a 1-0 lead to defend against Benfica in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

"Of course Stuttgart can beat us," he said. "It's just a single game.

"Over the course of the season, Bayern have been better than Stuttgart, but that counts for nothing tomorrow.

"It's not going to be easy for us in Lisbon either. There's a fantastic atmosphere there."