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Boosted by cup win

FCB primed for Bundesliga’s biggest game

The busy mid-autumn programme with its multiple highlight fixtures leaves little time to recharge batteries and pause for breath. Last Sunday saw the top of the table Bundesliga clash in Gladbach, an intense goalless draw in which Bayern were “forced to the limit,” as board director for sport Matthias Sammer reflected. The DFB Cup trip to Hamburg followed just three days later, with Munich turning in a “genuinely good display” and posting a comfortable 3-1 win. And now, Saturday brings the German Clasico against Borussia Dortmund.

“We’re all looking forward to it. It’s between the teams that have dominated German football for the last four or five seasons,” commented Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Bayern are paying no heed to the fact that BVB are struggling badly in the league at present, with four straight defeats and a precarious 15th place in the table. “We’re not interested in the standings. We know it’s still a huge game because they’re a top-class team,” said Manuel Neuer.

FCB have very little time to prepare for the men in yellow and black. The starting eleven from the cup clash spent Thursday morning on a session of regeneration drills at the team hotel in Hamburg. The other players, including Mehdi Benatia and Xherdan Shaqiri, worked out at a nearby sports facility, before the party boarded a Lufthansa charter jet for the flight to Munich in the early afternoon. The players then returned home, but will report back to the Säbener Strasse for Friday afternoon’s final pre-match training session.

Up for it from the off

The playing and coaching staff will naturally review the game in Hamburg. Despite the energy-sapping Gladbach encounter on the Sunday, the Reds were in no mood to allow an upset in the midweek cup tie. “We were up for it from the off,” Sammer noted approvingly. Captain Philipp Lahm praised the team’s powers of concentration, an attribute noted by Pep Guardiola: “We took it very seriously.”

“It was a cup tie. If you have a bad day you’re out. But we played well, and that’s why we went through,” the head coach continued. Robert Lewandowski (7), David Alaba (44) and Franck Ribery (55), making his first starting appearance of the campaign, scored the goals in a fully convincing victory, with Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s 85th-minute effort for the hosts nothing more than a consolation.

The cup holders now face Eintracht Braunschweig at home in the Round of 16 next March. “It’s a good draw,” Sammer acknowledged. Captain Lahm confirmed there was only one target for FCB in the competition this year: Berlin! “We know how good it is to be there.” However, the focus now turns 100 percent to Saturday’s domestic showdown. Bayern are still undefeated in the Bundesliga, the Champions League and the cup, and are keen to put even further distance between themselves and BVB in the table. “We need to defend well and stop them getting at us on the break. If we do, we have a good chance of winning,” commented Lahm.