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Burning with desire

Fit-again Demichelis fired up for first outing

Complete the following series: Bayern conceded three goals in Erfurt, two against Hamburg, and one against Dortmund, so how many will the champions let in at home to Hertha BSC Berlin on Sunday? The answer should be a first clean sheet of the new campaign, and the imminent return of Martin Demichelis can be nothing but a good thing for the FCB cause.

“The defence will definitely profit from the return of Martin Demichelis,“ chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented earlier in the week, “it will bring us the stability we need.“ The fact that FCB set a new league record of just 22 goals conceded in 34 matches last term was “no accident.”

Praise from Breitner

Bayern consultant and Rummenigge’s former team-mate Paul Breitner echoed the praise for the Argentine central defender, forced to the sidelines for three weeks after stretching knee ligaments in the Franz Beckenbauer Cup meeting with Inter Milan. “Last season, Micho showed he’s one of the five best central defenders in the world. You obviously suffer when you’re missing that kind of class.“

However, the goals Bayern have conceded so far cannot be solely attributed to Demichelis’ absence, as the Argentina star readily admits. “Obviously it’s not good that the team has let in a goal or two, but sometimes it just doesn’t go the way you want it to.“ Micho sprang to the defence of current centre-half pairing Lucio and Daniel van Buyten: “They’re both great players.“

Burning with desire

However, one of the two may have to step side at the weekend, as Demichelis is desperate to resume playing. “There’s a lot of pent-up anger because of my injury,“ the Argentina regular admitted, delighted that Jürgen Klinsmann named him club vice-captain before the start of the season. “I’m fit, I’ve recovered from the injury, I’m feeling great, and I’m ready to play.“

The player confessed he would have liked to make his comeback in Dortmund, “but it would have been too big a risk. I wasn’t 100 percent fit. Obviously, you always want to play, but I can’t think just of myself, I have to think of the team. I couldn’t have given it 100 percent in Dortmund.”

3-5-2 an option

There remains the option of Klinsmann fielding a three-man back line against the men from the German capital, a formation the Bavarians often used in pre-season. “We’ve not spoken about a system yet,” Demichelis revealed, “but all three of us could play. I like three at the back, I’m comfortable with it.“

The formation might well be a useful weapon against teams pulling ten man back behind the ball at the Allianz Arena. “Three at the back gives you more scope to attack from midfield.“ However, Demichelis is aware of the priority following two draws at the start of the campaign: “We simply have to win. I hope we play well, make the fans happy, and take all three points.“