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Hitzfeld urges patience

FCB prepared for ultra-defensive Frankfurt

Bayern’s home crowd has been treated to the ideal combination of successful and attractive football most of the time this term, as Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men have scored a minimum of three goals in four of their five Bundesliga fixtures at the Allianz Arena. Last season’s runners-up Schalke 04 are the only side to leave Munich with a point, and the Royal Blues’ Ivan Rakitc the solitary visiting player to net at the Bavarians’ home ground in the 2007-8 campaign.

Saturday sees ninth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt call at the Allianz Arena (live in English from 3.15 pm on FCB.tv Web Radio), when the customary 69,000 full house will turn out in the expectation of more fireworks from Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose, Franck Ribery and Co. “We’re overwhelming favourites and everyone expects us to win by a street,” Germany international Klose acknowledged, “We want to entertain the crowd, as we’ve tended to do at home.“

Eintracht’s attacking blues

On paper, Klose and his team-mates should indeed win comfortably. Eintracht, without a victory away from home this season, have only won once in their last six outings, while the 12 goals scored by Friedhelm Funkel’s men is the third-lowest in the league after Rostock (11) and Cottbus (7). The Hesse outfit suffered the disappointment of elimination from the Cup in Dortmund this week, but Bayern are on a high after a 3-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday.

“Making the next round will have given us a lift,” Hitzfeld declared. However, the Bayern coach warned of a much more attritional encounter with Saturday’s visitors than against the free-flowing Gladbach side. “Frankfurt are not known as an attacking team,” Hitzfeld pointed out. Only five clubs have conceded fewer goals than the side from the banking metropolis on the river Main.

Ribery to create openings

The Bayern coach recalled the last meeting between the teams back in March. “Frankfurt pulled everyone back behind the ball with three centre-halves and a sweeper. We have to prepare ourselves for another defensive Frankfurt line-up.“ The General urged his men to show patience: “We won’t find as many gaps as we did against Gladbach.“

Faced with ultra-defensive opponents, the probable return of Ribery’s creative trickery can only be extremely good news. The France star resumed the team training programme last Tuesday and is bristling with enthusiasm. “It would be an asset to have Ribery back for a game like this, because he can take out two or three defenders at a stroke. He’s uniquely talented, and we have no like-for-like replacement,” Hitzfeld commented.

Hitzfeld’s delight at long bench

Ribery’s return may not be the only change to the starting line-up. Four weeks after surgery to correct an elbow problem, Oliver Kahn is set to reclaim his place in goal, while Klose, Christian Lell and Mark van Bommel could all start after beginning the midweek Cup tie on the bench. Summer signing Jose Sosa is also desperate to stake a claim to a regular berth. “All our squad players would do as good a job as the men out on the field,” a visibly delighted Hitzfeld declared on surveying his rich options.

By contrast, Eintracht will be below full strength. Towering defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos is suspended, while Mehdi Mahdavikia (ligaments), Albert Streit and Alexander Meier (both knee) are sidelined with injury. Coach Funkel remains unperturbed at the prospect of facing the undefeated championship favourites. “Bayern are bound to lose a game at some point. Perhaps it’ll be against us.“

Probable line-ups:

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

Eintracht Frankfurt: Pröll - Ochs, Russ, Chris, Spycher - Inamoto, Fink - Weissenberger, Thurk, Köhler - Amanatidis

Referee: Florian Meyer (Burgdorf)

Bayern’s record in the fixture: P37 W29 D5 L3 F96 A41