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Run-in to Christmas

Toni and Ribéry fit for Leverkusen

The run-in to the mid-season break features four “finals“ for Bayern, as the reigning Bundesliga champions face three crunch showdowns in the league, and a hardly less challenging tie in the battle to win their Champions League group. Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, Lyon and Stuttgart provide the high-calibre opposition over the next 14 action-packed days.

“We’ve got a tough programme coming up, with four very, very difficult matches,“ Miroslav Klose freely acknowledged. The striker urged his team-mates to take each game as it comes. “We mustn’t make the mistake of thinking ahead to Lyon or Hoffenheim, we have to concentrate 100 percent on Leverkusen, a hard enough game in itself.“

Demichelis and Podolski doubtful

After a string of good results culminating in an impressive 3-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest in Europe, coach Jürgen Klinsmann believes his team are “well-armed“ for the tasks ahead. Klose argued it would be important to carry “the momentum from the Steaua match“ to the BayArena in Leverkusen.

Franck Ribéry (ankle) and Luca Toni (shoulder) came away from the midweek meeting with Steaua carrying knocks, but both will be fit to play on Saturday. The pair trained as normal on Thursday and will feature in the clash between the sides currently lying second and third in the standings. However, Klinsmann may be unable to call on Martin Demichelis and Lukas Podolski. The Argentine continues to struggle wit a calf problem, while Podolski still has severe back pain.

Oddo raring to go

Two days in advance of the trip to Leverkusen, Toni’s fellow-countryman Massimo Oddo reported “a real sense of expectation, because we’re in good form and good shape.“ The full-back feels Bayern have the depth in the squad to compensate for potential injury absences, even against a side as good as Leverkusen. FCB won in Schalke despite fielding a less than first-choice line-up, “so what matters is for the players in the team to give it 100 percent,“ the 32-year-old declared.