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Friendlies and play-offs

Fourteen Bayern stars on international duty

The Bundesliga takes a break this week, as there are two official FIFA-mandated international matchdays on the calendar. More than half the Bayern squad is away from Munich, with 13 senior stars and one reserve called up by their national teams. However, pride and a form check are the only things at stake for all but a handful of the FCB men.

As ever, the largest Munich contingent is away representing Germany. Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez are in the squad named by head coach Joachim Löw for friendlies against Chile on Saturday 14 November in Cologne, and against Cote d’Ivoire the following Wednesday, 18 November, in Gelsenkirchen.

Müller poised for debut

For the second of the warm-up matches against the African World Cup hopefuls, FCB shooting star Thomas Müller makes a debut appearance in his country’s senior squad. Before that, he is set to appear alongside Bayern team-mate Holger Badstuber for the Germany U-21s, who face Northern Ireland (13 November) and San Marino (17 November) in search of vital qualifying points for the 2011 European championship finals in Denmark.

Meanwhile, Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk has summoned three Munich men for friendlies in Italy (14 November) and at home to Paraguay in Herenveen (18 November). Bayern skipper Mark van Bommel is set for a comeback in an orange jersey, while Arjen Robben will pursue an individual programme as he continues his recovery from knee surgery some five weeks ago.

Tymo in search of place in SA

“I’ve agreed with Van Marwijk that Arjen needs to train hard over the next few days. He needs a good week of training, and not just matches,“ reported FCB coach Louis van Gaal. In addition to Van Bommel and Robben, Edson Braafheid is also in the Dutch squad.

In sharp contrast to most of his fellow Bayern men, the next ten days promise tension, drama and high stakes for Anatoly Tymoshchuk. The FCB midfielder and his Ukraine team-mates face Greece in the do-or-die World Cup play-offs on 14 and 18 November, with a place in South Africa the prize for the winner. 2006 World Cup runners-up France are also in play-off action against Ireland, although Les Bleus are without injured superstar Franck Ribéry.

Demichelis versus Euro 2008 winners

One of the most attractive fixtures of them all takes place in Madrid, where European champions Spain face Argentina and their Munich defender Martin Demichelis on Saturday. Micho and his team-mates then travel on to Lagos for a meeting with top African side Nigeria. Daniel van Buyten and Belgium also play two friendlies, at home to Hungary on 14 November and Qatar four days later.

On the other hand, Danijel Pranjic and Croatia have only one match. The Croats, who failed in their bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, host Liechtenstein on Saturday. Finally, and after making his senior international debut in Paris four weeks ago, 17-year-old FCB reserve David Alaba has again been nominated by Austria for a friendly against the mighty Spanish in Vienna on 18 November.

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