Created on 03-12-2013 at 16:04 PM
Playing keepy-up with six footballs at the same time is a skill probably only Jemile Martinez is blessed with. Pep Guardiola was stunned as he assisted charity organisation Clowns without Limits in his role as patron in a very special performance at the Circus Roncalli on Monday. However, Bayern’s head coach is not intending to pursue a career in the big top from now on. Guardiola emphasised that the match against Augsburg (Live in English from 8.30 pm CET on Twitter) – which of course features only a single ball - takes the highest priority: “Even though we still have the Club World Cup to play, Augsburg is the most important match before Christmas. It's like a final.”
In contrast to his home country of Spain, the domestic knockout cup in Germany is “dangerous”, Guardiola warned. “We only have one shot. Anything can happen, especially against a team like Augsburg. They never give up and are very strong on the break.”
Logically enough, there are no guarantees Bayern will reach the quarter-finals for the eleventh time in twelve years. Matthias Sammer added his voice to the pre-match caution: “We’ll have to give a peak performance. Augsburg cover a huge amount of ground as a team.” Manuel Neuer has not forgotten last year’s DFB Cup meeting at exactly the same stage, also in Augsburg: “It was a tight match. Wednesday is Augsburg’s biggest game of the season and they want to stop us.”
Ribéry to return?
Guardiola also mentioned the hard-fought 2-0 cup victory from the year before, which Bayern finished with ten men: “Augsburg had a chance. I spoke with Hermann Gerland and he assured me it’ll be a close match.” Bayern are refusing to draw comfort on conclusions from a comfortable 3-0 home win in the league three weeks ago. “Augsburg have had a good season so far, and they’re playing at home. It’ll be a very difficult match,” Arjen Robben declared.
Augsburg have won four and lost only two of their seven home matches and are grimly determined to show what they are capable of in the meeting with the treble winners. “If we play like we usually do at home, I think we stand a chance,” midfielder Daniel Baier said. Coach Markus Weinzierl added: “With our fantastic fans behind us, we think we can make it happen. We’ll do our best and fight until the end.”
Augsburg will be close to full strength, although Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker (knee) and Jan Moravek (sprain) are doubtful for the match. Second-choice keeper Alex Manniger is out due to a back injury. Bayern hope that Franck Ribéry may make a cameo appearance. Two weeks after cracking a rib the French international still has “some pain. But he’s recovering quickly,” Guardiola reported. A decision on whether to include Ribéry in the squad will be taken after a light training workout on the day of the match.