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Lahm back for Group D decider

Boss expects ‘very tight’ City showdown

Saturday’s 7–0 triumph in Bremen was an undiluted pleasure, for Bayern’s worldwide army of fans, for Uli Hoeneß, for Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and for Pep Guardiola. But just two days further on, the FCB coach no longer wanted to talk about the latest gala performance. “Too much praise isn’t good,” Guardiola insisted at the press conference prior to Tuesday’s Champions League group meeting with Manchester City (Live in English from 8.45 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio). “We have to keep the positive tension high. I hope we play well. We want 18 points from the group stage for the first time in our history. That’s a good target.“

And if Munich hit their target, they will finish top of Group D and be seeded in the draw for the first knockout round on 16 December. The benefits are a last sixteen tie against one of the supposedly weaker group runners-up, and home field advantage in the second leg. “We have a good chance on Tuesday. We’re strong at home, and we intend to carry on where we left off in Bremen,” declared Jérôme Boateng: “We’re confident.”

Bayern will be boosted by the return of captain Philipp Lahm from a stretched hamstring. “He’s ready and he’s trained very well,” reported Guardiola. Franck Ribéry made an impressive comeback from injury in the weekend clash with Werder. The only stars definitely out of the City clash are Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Holger Badstuber. Mario Götze came away from Bremen with a tight hamstring and is a minor doubt after sitting out Monday’s final pre-match training session, but the versatile forward will in all likelihood feature in what promises to be an intriguing encounter.

City enforcer Yaya Touré suspended

Naturally, everyone knows the Bundesliga leaders cannot simply turn up and expect to beat the side lying fourth in the Premier League. “They have many, many, many top, top, top players,” remarked Guardiola, ordering his men to forget the weekend rout against a patently inferior Bremen side. “It starts again with the score 0–0. It doesn’t matter what happened in the last few days,” warned the Spaniard, “I’m expecting a very tight match” - in contrast to the reverse fixture in early October, when Munich ran up a convincing and impressive 3–1 away victory.

City are without suspended midfield enforcer Yaya Touré but will drop deep and attempt to deny Bayern space, Guardiola predicted. “It’ll be hard to impose our tactics on the game. We’ll need to play at a high level and remain focused.“ The men from Manchester have a crucial Premier League showdown with league leaders Arsenal at the weekend, but Boateng is convinced his former club will “go flat out to win. It’s a final in the group. They won’t be thinking about Arsenal yet.“

Tuesday’s clash is Bayern’s penultimate home game of an extraordinarily successful 2013. The players want to put on another show for the loyal fans, said Boateng: “We’re a long way from finished yet. We want to keep on improving.“ His team-mate Thiago said he was fired up for the kind of match every professional footballer looks forward to. The important factor will be the treble winners staying hungry, as Guardiola concluded: “We’ll only finish top of the group if we keep our concentration.”