Created on 07-05-2009 at 00:00 AM
The phrase “our good friends from Cottbus” twice passed Uli Hoeneß’s lips last week during the unveiling of Jupp Heynckes as caretaker head coach at Bayern. Everyone watching knew exactly what the general manager was talking about. Energie’s 2-0 victory over Bundesliga leaders VfL Wolfsburg on the previous matchday effectively kept alive Bayern’s hopes of defending their domestic league crown.
However, that was actually only part of the story. Despite the yawning gap in circumstances and resources at the clubs, relations between the two can justifiably be described as friendly. On the occasion of Energie’s 40th birthday celebrations, Bayern travelled to the then second division outfit for a friendly on 14 February 2006, winning an exciting match 5-2.
Clean sheets in Cottbus
On Saturday, the second 22,528 capacity crowd of the season will pack the Stadium of Friendship for the latest competitive clash between the sides. All friendships will be put aside for 90 minutes, as Cottbus require every point in the battle to avoid relegation, and Bayern must win as they pursue their minimum target of a second-place finish.
“It’s the kind of game you can win or lose,” deadpanned Mark van Bommel on Thursday. At first sight, that appears a standard footballer throwaway line, but it in fact unerringly reflects the truth. Bayern have travelled to Cottbus on five occasions, losing twice without scoring, and winning three times without conceding. However, none of the matches ended in a draw, a statement which holds true for meetings between Bayern and Cottbus in Munich.
Most recently, Energie have won four of their last six home fixtures, but Bayern have only taken all three points twice in their last seven away games. Franck Ribéry missed a penalty last term as Cottbus won the corresponding fixture 2-0. “I’m expecting a super stadium with fantastic fans,” said Van Bommel. Unlike many of his team-mates, the 31-year-old has not lost in Cottbus: “I missed last season’s match.”