Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has admitted that his side cannot take the title away from Bayern Munich, with only a dramatic loss of form from the leaders seeing them miss out on a 22nd Bundesliga championship.
Jupp Heynckes' side are nine points clear of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen at the halfway stage, with Dortmund a further three points behind in third, and Klopp hopes that if his team cannot win their third consecutive title, then, they can at least finish in the top three.
"At this point, you can't take away the championship title from Bayern. You can't take it away, they can only give it away themselves. I'm afraid they're not going to do that," he told WAZ.
"The second place would be superb, the third place would be more than fine. Below that, we are moving into territories where we wouldn't really feel comfortable."
Despite impressing in the Champions League, BVB have struggled to perform consistently in the league, but Klopp believes his players should be forgiven for a slip in standards after a fantastic previous two years.
He added: "I think it's understandable that we will be in this form sometimes. My players are only human. Sometimes you forget necessities.
"On the other hand, we have shown in many games what we are capable of. We now need to constantly bring that to the table. Then we will play a successful second half of the season."
Dortmund resume Bundesliga action on January 19, when they visit 12th-placed, Werder Bremen.