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Leaders head-to-head

Reds expect ‘hard labour’ against Gladbach

The biggest match of the DFB German Cup second round on Wednesday evening pits Bundesliga leaders Bayern against former arch foes and current second division table-toppers Borussia Mönchengladbach. The tie awakens nostalgic memories of the epic battles of yesteryear, but more importantly from a Bayern point of view, the clash will require a supreme effort of will and determination from the Cup favourites as they pursue their goal of silverware in a third competition alongside the league and the UEFA Cup.

“In every match we play, we have to show desire for the trophy,” Martin Demichelis commented ahead of the meeting between the undefeated Bundesliga leaders and the second division’s leading scorers. “Gladbach are better than some of the teams in the Bundesliga. On Wednesday, we have to prove we really want to go to Berlin.“

Gladbach on a roll

Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld appealed to his players’ sense of duty. “It’s a dangerous situation. We might be tempted to think ‘it’s only Gladbach, we can ease off’, but that would be very, very dangerous. We can’t let up now. I’ve made it clear to the team that we’ll need to concentrate even harder. We can expect hard labour against Gladbach.“

Hitzfeld felt Wednesday’s visitors had “a better team than last season. They’d easily hold their own in the Bundesliga.” Borussia have gone eight games undefeated, “and they’re on a roll, leading the second division. We’ve been fully warned. I’m treating this as a Bundesliga meeting against tough opponents.“

Arch-rivals clash

“We’re full of respect and we know it’ll be hard,” warned Marcell Jansen, who spent his entire youth and senior career with Gladbach until switching to Munich last summer. The visitors do not regard themselves as no-hopers in the tie: “If everything goes well for us and Bayern have a bad day, we could pull it off,” Gladbach Director of Sport and former Red Christian Ziege declared.

Borussia coach Jos Luhukay said he was looking forward to the latest rematch between the long-term rivals, but was hardly cowed by Munich’s seemingly invincible form: “We’re the ones everyone wants to beat in the second division, but in the Bundesliga it’s Bayern. It’s a mouth-watering prospect,” the Dutch boss remarked, “although even with Ribéry missing, and if we shut out Luca Toni, they still have quite enough class.“

Hitzfeld looking forward to clash

Of the string of historic battles between the clubs over the years, the Cup final in May 1984 holds a special place in Bayern affections as the 13-times winners won a nail-biting penalty shoot-out 8-7 on the day. Indeed, Borussia have failed to win any of the four Cup meetings between the pair.

Bayern will be keen to maintain that record regardless of Wednesday’s line-up. Hitzfeld may choose to rotate his squad in the wake of energy-sapping fixtures in Belgrade and Dortmund, with Franck Ribéry rated extremely unlikely to feature. In any case, Hitzfeld is looking forward to the match: “Gladbach against Bayern is always a cracking fixture. I think we’re in for an exciting evening.“

Probable line-ups:

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

Borussia M’gladbach: Heimeroth - Levels, Brouwers, Daems, Voigt - Paauwe - Ndjeng, Rösler, van der Bergh - Friend, Neuville

Referee: Manuel Gräfe (Berlin)