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‘Challenge’ in Bremen

Rib & Rob out but FCB aim to attack

A mere 65 hours, or in other words considerably less than three days, lie between the final whistle of Bayern’s 7-0 romp against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League and the kick-off in the next demanding fixture, the Bundesliga trip to face Werder Bremen on Saturday afternoon (Live in English from 15:30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio). The match is by no means to be taken lightly as the men in green and white are the third-best team in Germany since the mid-season break.

“In the second half of the season so far, Bremen have taken the same number of points as Wolfsburg and us [16]. It means they’re in top form,” remarked Pep Guardiola. The northerners have recovered dramatically of late and risen from the relegation play-off place to eighth in the standings, where they are poised to mount an assault on the European qualifying spots. Guardiola therefore believes his men face “a good challenge. I’m looking forward to it!”

Whether he wanted to or not, the Bayern boss will be forced to rotate his squad this weekend, as Franck Ribéry (ankle) and Arjen Robben (trapped nerve) are not fit to play. “It means we lose quality in the one-on-one situations,” commented Guardiola, who is also without Xabi Alonso due to suspension. Neither ex-Werder man Claudio Pizarro nor Gianluca Gaudino joined the rest of the squad on the team bus after Friday’s pre-match workout; the pair both have sprains and trained individually in the performance centre.

Guardiola’s good feeling

On the plus side, Philipp Lahm will follow up his return to the dugout against Shakhtar with a place in the squad for Bremen, although Guardiola said it was too soon for the captain to make a start. Lahm could be fit for “a very, very few minutes,” reported the Spaniard, who is determined not to rush his captain back too soon. The same applies to Thiago, who again completed part of the squad programme but is not a contender to face Bremen. “He’ll be playing again after the international break,” the coach revealed.

The absence of Ribéry and Robben means Guardiola will have to tweak his attacking tactics. “The game plan depends on the quality of the team,” remarked the 44-year-old, although the boss insisted his basic strategy would “never change. We want to attack!” And despite the short interval between matches, Guardiola said he was very optimistic. “My gut is telling me we’ll play well!”

Pre-match news from Werder Bremen

  • Unavailable: Franco di Santo (suspension), Alejandro Galvez (ligaments), Assani Lukimya (sprain), Özkan Yildirim (rehab)
  • Coach Viktor Skripnik: “The Bayern players try to bring every move to a successful conclusion and always give it their best. We’ll be prepared for that. Our dream is to see if we can irritate them a little.”