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Quarter-finals beckon

FCB confident of cup success in Stuttgart

The long German winter break is almost at an end, and the restart features two momentous showdowns from a Bayern point of view: Tuesday evening’s DFB Cup Round of 16 tie away to VfB Stuttgart, followed three days later by the first fixture of the second half of the Bundesliga programme, when the champions travel to Hamburger SV aiming for top spot in the standings. “We’ve had a few weeks to warm up for this. We’re all delighted it’s about to get going again,” commented Philipp Lahm.

By a curious irony, Munich’s last competitive fixture before the six-and-a-half week mid-season break, a 2-2 draw with VfB in the league, also took place at the Gottlieb-Daimler stadium in Stuttgart. “It’s a really tough proposition. Away in Stuttgart is hardly what you’d call easy,” commented Bayern boss Jürgen Klinsmann, set to revisit his home town and former club rather earlier than would normally be the case. “But if we want to go all the way to Berlin, these are the hurdles we have to overcome,” he added. Lahm regards Tuesday’s fixture as a competitive opportunity: “We can send out a signal right from the off.”

Tough challenge

For the players, a win-or-bust fixture to open the new footballing year is no bad thing, the coach argued. “The team is well aware we have a very difficult task ahead of us. We know that knockout matches are deadly serious, there’s no making amends for mistakes." Slip-ups in the Bundesliga “can be corrected if it goes wrong, but not in the DFB Cup. The lads know that, and we’ll go flat out from the very first second,” Klinsmann promised.