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Crucial autumn

Hitzfeld: Beware of unpleasant surprises

Bayern’s Bundesliga trip to VfL Bochum ushers in a packed autumn schedule for the Reds featuring seven matches in 21 days and including potentially pivotal encounters in the league, the UEFA Cup and the German Cup.

“We’ve tried to make best use of the time we’ve had with the players who were here,“ Ottmar Hitzfeld reported at the end of the latest break for internationals, when squad levels were once again reduced, although with only eight players still required by national teams this week, the situation has certainly been more acute in the past.

Hitzfeld keen on Klose and Toni

“We’ve had a very good week, after Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni resumed training. We’ve done some work on our attacking options,“ Hitzfeld reported. Klose missed Germany’s Euro 2008 qualifiers against Ireland and the Czech Republic with injury, while Toni elected to withdraw from Italy’s midweek friendly against South Africa and return to Munich ahead of schedule.

The General is certain to field the duo, who have eight league goals apiece so far. Klose has shaken off his knee injury and is confident of appearing against Bochum. “I’m sure he’ll be fit to play, the only question is how long he’ll last,“ the coach remarked.

Rested Bochum

Saturday’s Ruhr Valley opponents started the season well but hit a trough and now lie a lowly 14th in the standings. Hitzfeld nevertheless expects “a tough match. I don’t believe Bochum will pull nine men back behind the ball. They’re full of running, they play modern football, they use a 4-4-2 formation to keep it tight and break at speed.“

Moreover, Bochum sent far fewer players away on international duty last week. “They’re better rested than we are,“ Hitzfeld pointed out. “I hope we can summon up plenty of energy, otherwise there could be an unpleasant surprise. We need to hold them off and play to our strengths.“

Bochum vow toil and graft

The first capacity crowd of the season at the rewirpower-Stadion will watch a home side determined to inflict Bayern’s first defeat of term. “We need to graft and toil, cut the pitch up, concentrate from the first minute and keep it tight,“ urged VfL boss Marcel Koller, promising not to change his tactics just because Bayern are in town: “We can’t put a bodyguard on any one outstanding individual, because there are too many of them.“

VfL skipper Thomas Zdebel felt his side should not overdo the respect for the league leaders. “There needn’t be all this palaver just because it’s Bayern. We don’t intend to go out there and applaud all their best moves,“ Zdebel declared. “The only thing at stake is points, and we need them in the fight against relegation.“

Confident Lell

For their part, the Reds will go looking for a win to maintain or extend their lead at the top of the standings. “If we show our class and pick up where we left off last time out, there’s a good chance we’ll take something from the game,“ argued right-back Christian Lell. “I’m confident we’ll play well and win.“

Probable line-ups:

VfL Bochum: Lastuvka - Concha, Maltritz, Yahia, Bönig - Sestak, Schröder, Zdebel, Grote - Epalle, Mieciel

Bayern Munich: Rensing - Lell, Demichelis, Lucio, Jansen - Altintop, Van Bommel, Zé Roberto, Ribéry - Klose, Toni
Also in matchday squad: Dreher, Ismael, Ottl, Schweinsteiger, Sosa, Schlaudraff, Podolski

Referee: Herbert Fandel (Kyllburg)

Bayern’s record in the fixture: P31 W17 D7 L7 F54 A38

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