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Contrasting fortunes

FCB near full strength, Frankfurt decimated

Louis van Gaal was only able to name a 16-man squad for last weekend’s home meeting with Freiburg, as a total of six absentees meant the Bayern party fell two short of the matchday maximum. For Saturday’s trip to face Eintracht Frankfurt, space will once again be at a premium on the Munich subs’ bench.

On the one hand, Bastian Schweinsteiger is back after sitting out a one-match ban. Hamit Altintop also returns to contention in Frankfurt. The Turkey international was laid low for a full week with a heavy dose of the flu, but is expected to resume the team training programme on Friday. “We have more fit players again,” Arjen Robben confirmed.

Ribéry jogging

A question-mark hangs over Franck Ribéry’s fitness to play. The Frenchman is currently reporting to sports rehab coach Thomas Wilhelmi for a tailored jogging and running schedule. “Franck is doing everything he can to recover fitness. I can’t demand anything more from a player. But I’ll have to wait and see if he’s fully up to it,” Van Gaal was quoted as saying in a Sportinformationsdienst agency report.

Bayern are definitely without Mario Gomez (ruptured calf muscle) and Martin Demichelis (multiple facial fractures). The Argentina defender was fitted with a special protective mask on Thursday, and hopes to resume the squad training schedule after next Wednesday’s DFB Cup semi-final away to Schalke.

Eintracht’s injury crisis

Weekend opponents Eintracht have been hit by an injury crisis in the run-up to the meeting with the Bundesliga leaders. Aleksandar Vasoski (knee surgery), Zlatan Bajramovic (Achilles surgery), Ioannis Amanatidis (sports rehab after knee surgery), and Nikos Liberopoulos (ankle) are all definitely out injured. Coach Michael Skibbe is also without suspended regulars Patrick Ochs, Maik Franz and Selim Teber.

“It’s obvious who are the favourites and who are the underdogs. But we mustn’t abandon our passion for playing football,” reflected Skibbe, whose men are currently tenth in the standings on 35 points.