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FCB in Düsseldorf

Ribéry and Badstuber candidates to return

The Bayern players were elated but weary when they bade Romania La rewedere on Thursday morning. After a short night’s sleep - the Champions League meeting with CFR Cluj the previous evening did not kick off until 9.45 pm local time – some of the players dropped off for a while on the two-hour flight back to Germany, while others read or listened to music. One game of cards took place to the rear of the Lufthansa plane.

After landing in the club’s home country, the players did not go home or report to the Säbener Strasse, but instead checked in to the next hotel. The Bayern party had not flown to Munich, but rather to Düsseldorf, where the team will prepare for Saturday’s Bundesliga meeting with Borussia Mönchengladbach. “We only have two days to focus on Gladbach,” explained Louis van Gaal, “which is why we’re flying straight there. It’s better for our concentration, and we’ll have some peace.”

Fifteen-man squad

In the second half of last season, the head coach followed a similar plan after a Champions League away fixture. Following the quarter-final second leg in Manchester last April, the players flew to Düsseldorf to begin immediate preparations for the imminent Bundesliga clash (in Leverkusen), without spending unnecessary time travelling.

On this occasion, Bayern are based a short 25 kilometres from Borussia Park. However, they will not completely ignore Munich during this time, as one or more players may yet fly in from the Bavarian capital to swell the decimated 15-man squad in Düsseldorf. “We’ll have to see if anyone suffers a reaction in training. Normally, Badstuber would join us, and maybe Ribéry too. But it won’t be anyone else, that’s it,” said Van Gaal.

Seventh game in 22 days

Badstuber has missed the last two matches with a pelvic injury, and Ribéry has been out for six weeks with ankle ligament damage. Both trained in Munich on Thursday, with a decision to be taken on Friday on their fitness to join the squad in Düsseldorf.

With Bayern facing their seventh match in the space of 22 days, Van Gaal would be only too delighted to welcome fresh players to his squad. Borussia are bottom of the league at present, but Saturday’s fixture will be no stroll, as Jörg Butt confirmed: “It won’t be easy. We’ll have to give it everything again. Our position in the league still isn’t so great, so we’re still under pressure and have to take all three points back with us to Munich.” Back to Munich indeed: the flight is booked for Saturday evening.