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Micho and Andy fit again

Superstars doubtful for Dortmund clash

Two previously missing stars reported fit but three question marks remained when the Bayern party set off on Saturday for the following afternoon’s Bundesliga clash away to Borussia Dortmund (Live in English from 4.45 pm CET on FCB.tv Web Radio). Three days after a gruelling battle in Belgrade, the undefeated Bavarians could be without Luca Toni, Franck Ribéry and Daniel van Buyten.

Ribéry, who missed the UEFA Cup encounter in Serbia with a stiff hamstring, and Van Buyten, still struggling with a strain picked up while on duty for Belgium, took no part in Saturday’s final squad training session and went jogging instead. World Cup winner Toni came through the workout, but is by no means a certainty to appear at Signal Iduna park, where by contrast, an 80,708 full house is guaranteed.

Ottl and Kroos in matchday squad

There was positive news from the club medical unit too: both Martin Demichelis and Andreas Ottl have shaken off the flu and successfully completed the last training session before the Dortmund clash. The pair will now be included in the matchday squad, where they will be joined by youngster Toni Kroos.

Despite the selection concerns, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is looking forward to a reunion with his former Dortmund charges, in the knowledge that Saturday’s 1-1 draw between Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen means a win in the Ruhr Valley would see Munich extend their lead in the table. Three points would take Bayern eight clear of Werder, and put the Reds a daunting eleven in front of Schalke.

Unpredictable BVB

“I had seven great years in Dortmund, and visiting the Westfalen stadium is still really momentous for me. The atmosphere is very special there. I always enjoy going back, but I’ll enjoy it even more if we come away with the points,“ Hitzfeld quipped. The coach expects a stern test against BVB, not involved in Europe this term and thus with a full week’s rest under their belts. However, results such as a 3-0 win against Bremen and a 3-1 reverse against lowly Duisburg on home turf mark Dortmund out as “totally unpredictable. They’re not especially consistent and solid yet. I hope they don’t buck that trend against us.“

Hitzfeld repeated his concern over possible consequences of his side’s labours on a basically unplayable pitch in Belgrade. “There’s a danger that tiredness could be the root cause of a new injury,“ the 58-year-old mused. “We’ll need to think hard about who’s in a fit condition to play, and who we might choose to rest.“ Hitzfeld may be considering a round of rotation, handing a chance to the likes of Ottl, José Sosa or Jan Schlaudraff.

Déjà-vu in prospect?

Eleventh-placed Dortmund are keen to hand their former boss a first defeat of term. “We’re up for it and we’re aiming to win. Our fans want to see a decent fight. It won’t be a gentle training workout for Bayern,“ BVB coach Thomas Doll promised. “We have to look to our own strengths, that’ll be the key factor. We need to take the initiative.“

Borussia have traditionally done well at home to Bayern, and will take heart from one fact in particular: back in 1995, the Bavarians won their first seven matches to set a new record at the start of a season, but travelled to Dortmund on a Sunday in October and lost. “We can’t hope to match Bayern over the course of a whole season, but it’s always possible in a single match,“ Doll observed.

Probable line-ups:

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Degen, Wörns, Kovac, Dede - Kruska, Tinga - Blaszczykowski, Kringe - Klimowicz, Petric

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

Referee: Dr. Markus Merk (Otterbach)

Bayern’s record in the fixture: P38 W11 D15 L12 F53 A60