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Rivals 1860 on Saturday

Lions test ‘more than just a friendly’

Just hours after defeating third division Fortuna Düsseldorf 3-2 in a lively warm-up encounter on Tuesday evening, the Bayern party had returned to Munich ready for training the following morning. The meeting in the Rhineland, Bayern’s third win in their third mid-season friendly, had been “a good test,“ according to Ottmar Hitzfeld, who gained valuable knowledge about his team’s state of readiness with a week to go before the competitive action resumes.

Bayern face Wuppertaler SV, another third division north outfit, in a DFB German Cup Round of 16 tie in front of a capacity crowd at the Schalke Arena next Tuesday, where the underdogs are likely to show the same fighting qualities as Düsseldorf: enthusiasm, determination, passion, and very little respect. “We had a taste of what we can expect next week,” commented Jan Schlaudraff after contributing a brace to the victory over Fortuna.

Appointment with Lions

Tuesday’s 31,000 crowd at the LTU Arena saw Luca Toni open the scoring in the first half. The Italian, one of only two Bayern players to feature for the full 90 minutes, was involved in practically all his side’s best attacking moves. That in turn is testament to his complete and uninterrupted participation in the mid-season fitness programme, in stark contrast to his injury-blighted pre-season. “I’m really delighted he’s managed the entire programme so far. He needs high-intensity training,” Hitzfeld remarked.

However, the training burden at the club will now be eased back, as the coaching staff aim to shake the weariness from the players’ legs and replace it with vigour and freshness. Bayern will be “much better rested” ahead of Saturday’s meeting with arch-rivals TSV 1860 Munich at the Allianz Arena, Hitzfeld said, not only because it is the club’s last and “most important test” of the winter, but also because derby pride is at stake.

Determined to win

“It’s definitely more than just a friendly,” the head coach remarked, aware that the Reds have lost all three of their most recent meetings with the Blues and have failed to score in the process. “We don’t want to put our fans through that again,” Hitzfeld declared, “it’s time to make amends. We’ll be trying to win the match whatever it takes.“

Nevertheless, the General will again seek to field as many of his players as possible against the Lions, handing every individual a chance to play his way into the team. “We’ll certainly be making substitutions. There’s no sense in only looking at eleven players,” he confirmed. Furthermore, with two vital fixtures coming up next week, it was important to reduce the risk of injury, although the coach is not expecting a particularly physical derby, “because both teams want to make a decent start to the second half of the season.“ Victory over the Lions would certainly fit the bill from a Bayern point of view.