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Showdown with Bremen

Question-marks over Ribéry and Lucio

Six days before the meeting between top club Bayern and second-placed Werder Bremen at the Allianz Arena, the Munich medical unit is working overtime to stave off the prospect of the Reds losing star duo Franck Ribéry and Lucio for the clash with the title contenders from the north.

Ribéry came off at half-time in last Friday’s away match against Rostock complaining of tightness in his left hamstring. The midfielder continued to be troubled by the problem on Monday and was forced to pull out of the France squad for a friendly meeting with Spain on Wednesday. Ribéry will return to Munich on Tuesday and report for intensive treatment.

Podolski resumes team programme

Lucio did not even make it as far as joining up with his national squad: the Brazil captain is out of the midweek meeting between the Seleção and Ireland in Dublin with an inflamed Achilles tendon, and is rated doubtful for the Bremen clash. “We’ll have to wait on it,” Bayern assistant coach Michael Henke told fcbayern.de.

On a more positive note, striker Lukas Podolski returned from a ten-day lay-off with a slipped disc on Monday and trained normally with the Germany squad. Michael Rensing, ruled out of the first two competitive fixtures of the new year with a back problem, is also making good progress and completed a few laps of the practice ground in Munich on Monday.

Only eleven away

The reduced squad left behind in Munich focused on fitness at the start of the week. “We’re working without the ball today,” Henke revealed to fcbayern.de. After a session in the weights room, Henke sent the players on a stamina-building run. Alongside head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld (away on official business), José Ernesto was also unexpectedly absent after his on-off call-up to the Argentina squad for a friendly against Guatemala in Los Angeles (USA) was finally confirmed.

Problems arose after the Argentine association missed a deadline for securing the player’s entry visa, and the midfielder had resigned himself to staying at home. “But he ended up getting his visa after all,” Henke reported. After the injuries to Ribéry and Lucio, the end result is that 11 rather than the original 13 Reds will feature for their countries in midweek.