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Cup tie in Leverkusen

Müller & Alonso: It’s make or break

There’s no such thing as an Easter holiday at FC Bayern, as training took place as normal on both days following Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 victory in Dortmund. And there’s an obvious reason too, as Pep Guardiola’s men travel to Leverkusen on Wednesday in search of a place in the DFB Cup semi-finals. “Once again it’ll be a question of character,” said Thomas Müller, “it’s a cup quarter-final so there’s going to be an edge.” Team-mate Xabi Alonso agreed: “It’s make-or-break!”

Naturally, Bayern aim to contest the cup final in Berlin for the fourth season in a row. “But we still have two steps to go,” noted Alonso, who has already laid hands on the domestic cup in Spain and England. “And I want to win it here too,” continued the 33-year-old. “We’re close to all three trophies, but the decisive games are still to come.”

In that context it is a bad time for the club to suffer a new crop of injuries. Arjen Robben, David Alaba and Javi Martínez were already ruled out of Wednesday’s clash. Franck Ribéry will not be fit in time, it was confirmed on Monday, and there is a big question-mark over Bastian Schweinsteiger. “We have to make the best of it as a team and salvage the situation,” declared Müller, “we’ll still have a super team out on the field.”

Müller: We won’t park the bus

Captain Philipp Lahm is set for another start, and it is conceivable he might be joined by Thiago, who made a long-awaited comeback in Dortmund. “It’s fantastic to have him back,” said Alonso, “in the few minutes he was on the field we could all see his huge quality. He’s so good on the ball and in the one-on-one situations. That’s exactly the kind of player you need in the really big games.”

In another positive development, Holger Badstuber has shaken off a hip problem and came through Monday training without a reaction. That’s especially good news because the Bayern defence could well face another stern test in Leverkusen. Bayer 04 are “a very, very good team,” advised Alonso. “They’ve shown how difficult they are to beat this season. We’ll need a top performance.”

Müller voiced a similar opinion. “Leverkusen are in good shape,” said the Germany international. “It certainly won’t hurt on Wednesday if we show the same utter determination to win as we did in Dortmund.” Due to the selection issues, Bayern were unusually defensive at Signal Iduna Park. Would the same tactics be deployed against Bayer, Müller was asked. “It’s a knockout match and there’s such a lot at stake so we won’t throw caution to the wind, we’ll defend well as a team. But parking the bus on the edge of our own penalty area isn’t our new tactical plan,” the striker replied.