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Telekom Cup 2014

Ribéry, Pizarro and Co head for Hamburg

“Great, Franck! Brilliant, Lewandowski!” Pep Guardiola was keen to sing his players’ praises on Friday morning. The FC Bayern head coach observed every move on the training ground with his eagle eyes and constantly issued verbal encouragement. It will probably be the same at the weekend when the double winners contest the Telekom Cup for the sixth time, at Hamburg’s Imtech Arena on this occasion.

“It’s a welcome test. We’re missing a couple of players but we’ll still try to win our games,” promised David Alaba, full of the commitment of a defending champion, as he prepares to face Borussia Mönchengladbach in the semi-finals on Saturday (8.30 pm CET, highlights on post match).

Bayern won the Telekom Cup for the first time last year with a 5-1 victory over Gladbach. The rematch in Hamburg could prove to be a tough test for FCB - not least because of the personnel situation that Guardiola described as “completely different” from twelve months ago when the Bayern coach had “the whole squad” at his disposal.

'We’re well prepared'

Franck Ribéry is on the verge of making his comeback. “He’s in good shape,” said Guardiola about his winger who has completed three full training sessions after recovering from his back injury. “I think he’ll be able to get a few minutes under his belt.” Guardiola is looking to take all his fit players to Hamburg including Javi Martínez, the first of the stars back from the World Cup, and recently injured duo Sebastian Rode (ankle) and Claudio Pizarro (calf).

The Peru striker says he is over his calf problems. That means Claudio could be back in the hunt for goals for the first time in pre-season at the Telekom Cup - in the new away kit launched by FC Bayern on Friday. “The kit’s really good,” said Pizarro, “I hope we win the cup wearing it.” If FCB overcome Borussia, they will meet Hamburg SV or VfL Wolfsburg, who face off in the opening game on Saturday evening (6.30 pm CET), in Sunday’s final. Alaba is confident: “We’re well prepared.”

For anybody wanting to see Bayern live at the Imtech Arena tickets are available in all categories for both days. Full price tickets cost €12, €24 or €36 per day, child tickets bought in advance are half price. Hamburg SV have said combined tickets for both days and concessions are only available in advance.