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Cup final can wait

Bayern focus on Frankfurt revenge mission

Frankfurt provide the meat in a ‘Dortmund sandwich’ for Bayern this week. Following Sunday’s 5-0 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and three days before the sides meet again in the German Cup final, the Bavarians must negotiate a challenging away trip to Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday evening (Live in English from 7.45 pm on Web Radio).

Frankfurt has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for the men in red, who have won just seven of their 37 top flight matches in the banking metropolis. The task is made harder on this occasion by the potentially serious mental distraction created by the glamour trip to the Berlin Olympic stadium at the weekend.

Keen to maintain lead

“Frankfurt is the priority,” insisted Ottmar Hitzfeld, ordering his men to focus exclusively on the Eintracht clash. “The Cup final is still a long way into the future. Frankfurt is crucial, because we’re not champions yet, so we still need the points,” the Bayern coach thundered.

With six Bundesliga matches remaining, Bayern lead second-placed Werder Bremen by ten points, an advantage Hitzfeld and his troops intend to preserve in the Hesse state capital. “We want to wrap up the league as quickly as possible,” commented Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Klose, Jansen and Ribéry doubtful

Hitzfeld confirmed his intention to treat the match seriously by announcing he would pick a full-strength side. “All the regulars who are fit to play, will play,” he declared ahead of final training on Tuesday, although Franck Ribéry, Miroslav Klose and Marcell Jansen may well miss the Frankfurt trip. Ribéry trained as normal on Tuesday and Jansen underwent a morning fitness test, but Klose reported to the medical unit for treatment.

Hitzfeld is also considering the merits of resting Martin Demichelis and Philipp Lahm, and is definitely without Oliver Kahn (neck), who will be replaced by Michael Rensing. Zé Roberto serves a one-match ban, but Mark van Bommel returns from suspension.

Hitzfeld calls for revenge

Another reason for Hitzfeld’s determination to take the points on Wednesday is the memory of the corresponding fixture last season. “We were denied two clear penalties,” the coach recalled, but a spectacular late winner from Christoph Preuß (pictured in a challenge with Schweinsteiger) sealed an lucky 1-0 win for the home side, finally burying Bayern’s lingering hopes of challenging for honours.

To add insult to injury, Hitzfeld’s men utterly dominated the reverse fixture this term and fired off some 40 shots at the Eintracht goal, but Frankfurt somehow came away from the Allianz Arena with a 0-0 draw. “So we have a score to settle with Eintracht,” Hitzfeld summarised.

Understandably, the men from Hesse are confident of delighting a 51,500 capacity crowd at the Commerzbank Arena with another decent result against their illustrious foe. “We’d like to irritate Bayern, like we did last year,” confirmed midfielder Michael Fink. Coach Friedhelm Funkel felt victory was within his side’s grasp: “We’re capable of beating Bayern at home.“