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Bayern Munich heading for early Bundesliga title; Borussia Dortmund seeks to escape relegation

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FRANKFURT, Germany — Two questions dominate as the Bundesliga season resumes after a long winter break: how early will Bayern Munich win the title and will Borussia Dortmund get relegated?

The league has not played since the weekend before Christmas and kicks off again on Friday when Bayern visits Wolfsburg. No other major league in Europe has such a long midseason break.

Bundesliga clubs typically give their players brief vacations, before assembling again to start preparing for the second half of the season. That usually involves a trip to warmer shores for a week of training, before returning to the European winter.

Here are some things to know ahead of the weekend:


BAYERN UNDER FIRE

Bayern also went abroad for its training camp, to Qatar. On the way home, Bayern stopped over in Saudi Arabia for a friendly set up by one of its sponsors — raising a wave of criticism at tome. Critics, including high-ranking politicians, accused Bayern of being insensitive to Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record.

Bayern officials hoped to ride out the storm without much comment but eventually were forced to admit that the club should have raised the human rights issues.


BAYERN'S LEAD

Bayern enters the second half of the season undefeated and with a massive 11-point lead over Wolfsburg. Only a Wolfsburg victory on Friday victory could restore at least some suspense to the season, although no one seriously doubts that Bayern will win its second straight title under coach Pep Guardiola and its third consecutive championship.

Last season, Bayern won the title with a record seven matches to spare and could break the mark. So far, Guardiola's team has 14 wins and three draws. It is also still in the German Cup and the Champions League.


MOURNING WOLFSBURG

Wolfsburg players are still trying to come to terms with the death of the 20-year-old forward Junior Malanda. The Belgian was killed in a car crash as he headed to join his teammates for the trip to the training camp.

"There were times when we could not concentrate fully," coach Dieter Hecking said. "I wish we had another week to prepare."

Goalkeeper Diego Benaglia said the team was trying to remain concentrated and professional, but "when you have time to think and the emotions overcome you, it's not easy."


DORTMUND'S DESPERATION

From Bayern's challenger to relegation candidate: Dortmund had a dismal first half of the season as it lost 10 of the first 17 matches and is next to last.

Dortmund was the 2011 and 2012 champion and runner-up to Bayern the last two seasons. But it has been set back by a seemingly never-ending series of injuries to key players and a run of poor luck.

"We've trained well and worked through a lot of routines. Now it's a matter of doing the fine-tuning, and then we're off," coach Juergen Klopp said ahead of Saturday's match at third-place Bayer Leverkusen.

Dortmund has high expectations of newly signed attacking midfielder Kevin Kampl, a German-born Slovenia international.

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