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Reds primed for tussle with strugglers

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge turned 52 on Tuesday, but the club chairman has elected to stage his birthday party along with the 69,000 expected at the Allianz Arena the following evening. “With the Oktoberfest in full swing, we at Bayern like to celebrate, get in the party mood and entertain our fans. And I hope the team keep up the tradition of winning at this time of year,” Rummenigge declared ahead of the midweek meeting with Energie Cottbus.

Three days after a 4-1 away victory in Karlsruhe, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team are looking to maintain their excellent start to the season with maximum points against the Bundesliga’s bottom club. “On Wednesday evening, we want to carry on where we left off in Karlsruhe,” Hamit Altintop commented. “When we play Cottbus, we aim to show why we intend to win the league,” added Martin Demichelis.

New boss at Energie

On paper, the outcome is a formality. After six matches, Bayern are two points clear at the top with four wins and two draws, but 18th-placed Cottbus are the only club yet to win this term. Extending the statistical review back into last season, the men from the Lausitz have gone nine games without a league victory, persuading the board to dismiss long-serving coach Petrik Sander at the weekend, “even though he worked miracles,“ Hitzfeld observed wryly.

Will the change of coach herald a change of fortune? “It’s always a dangerous situation. The onus is on the players to prove it wasn’t their fault,” Hitzfeld pointed out. “But it doesn’t change anything for us. We know they’ll fight for their lives, and we’ll have to improve if we want to win.“

Hitzfeld praises players’ attitude

The Cottbus camp will be hoping the change at the helm has an inspirational effect. “It’s Energie’s easiest match all season. No-one’s going to risk a cent on us in the current situation. I’m really looking forward to the match,” declared interim boss Heiko Weber, calling on his new charges to be courageous: “There’s no need to wet ourselves faced with Munich.“ Energie captain Timo Rost even discerned positives from the fixture plan: “Right now, playing Bayern is basically the best thing we could hope for.“

Hitzfeld is not afraid of his team possibly underestimating the bottom club. “We have a good attitude in the dressing room and plenty of newcomers who have yet to prove themselves. We’ve achieved nothing yet,” he observed. “We haven’t under-rated any of our opponents up to now, and we’ve proved it by the way we’ve played,“ Altintop agreed.

Klose targets early goal

The Turkey international’s hard-running display in Karlsruhe may well see him retain his starting place. “I’m always delighted when players come off the bench and perform,” Hitzfeld noted. The Bayern coach declined to reveal whether he would continue the weekend rotation policy. Apart from convalescent quartet Willy Sagnol, Philipp Lahm, Jose Sosa and Valerien Ismael, Hitzfeld picks from a full squad. “We have several useful options,” he said.

In-form strike pair Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose will again go looking for goals. “We would be well advised to go for it right from the start and take our chances ruthlessly. Ideally, we’ll score from our first opening” Klose declared. “We have a responsibility to take three points at home.“ Demichelis summarised.

Probable line-ups:

Bayern Munich: Kahn - Lell, Van Buyten, Demichelis, Jansen - Altintop, Zé Roberto, Van Bommel, Ribery - Toni, Klose
Also in matchday squad: Rensing, Lucio, Ottl, Schlaudraff, Podolski, Kroos, Schweinsteiger

Energie Cottbus: Piplica - Angelov, da Silva, Mitreski, Cvitanovic - Rost, Kukielka - Shao, Skela, Rangelov - Sörensen

Bayern’s record in the fixture: P4 W4 D0 L0 F13 A2