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Squad rotation

Hitzfeld delighted by wide range of options

Following Thursday’s 5-1 UEFA Cup victory over Aberdeen, Bayern’s quest for a triple continues apace next week with a Bundesliga clash against Hamburger SV and a DFB German Cup showdown with TSV 1860 Munich. The three crunch fixtures usher in an intense period which – if all goes according to the Munich master plan – would see the Reds playing twice a week right through to the last league matchday on 17 May.

In the circumstances, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is certain to call on every member of his squad at some point. Against Aberdeen, the General made four changes to the team which beat Hanover last weekend, resting Zé Roberto, Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and bringing in Marcell Jansen, Lukas Podolski, Andreas Ottl and Toni Kroos.

All good enough for the team

“If we reach both the finals we’re aiming at, we’ll play another 24 matches this season. You can’t do that by confining yourself to 11, 12 or 13 players,” Hitzfeld explained. “We have a strong squad, all of them good enough for the first team, so resting one or two of them is only normal. We’ve reached the stage of the campaign when we need 15, 16 or 17 players. We have to apportion our resources intelligently, so we’ll continue to rotate the squad.“

“Ottmar’s rotation was just fine today,” general manager Uli Hoeneß observed. All the new faces in the team performed well, with a star turn from Podolski, who took his UEFA Cup goals total to four. “I’m delighted he did so well,” commented Hitzfeld, “he was present right from the start, his movement was good, he went looking for the ball, and his passing was great. He’s coming along well.“

Happy with the burden

Eighteen-year-old prodigy Kroos had an equally good game out on the left, delivering a fine series of set pieces into the Scottish box. “He lived up to all our expectations today,” Hoeneß declared. “I really like two matches a week, I have a better chance of playing,” offered Kroos, revealing his personal recipe for success: “You have to give everything in training and put yourself forward, and then seize your chance in a match.“

That certainly applied to Jansen, who competently survived a buffeting from the robust Aberdeen defenders in the first half, and to Andi Ottl, a solid replacement for Zé Roberto in the holding role. “What the coach is doing is great. We’re rotating a little but we’re still winning, and that’s how it needs to continue,” said Willy Sagnol, himself rested for the first leg in Aberdeen last week.

Plenty in reserve

Perhaps the most important conclusion for Hitzfeld on Thursday was that he can place complete faith in his “second string” players – if indeed such a thing exists at Bayern. “I believe any player can stand in for any other. That’s why we’re so strong,” the General commented, delighted by the range of options on offer. It will come as little surprise if the team to face HSV on Sunday looks different again to the line-up which comprehensively outplayed Aberdeen.