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Away to Nürnberg

FCB fired up for all-Bavaria derby

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On paper the 188th all-Bavaria derby between FC Nürnberg and Bayern looks nailed on for the men from Munich. The league leaders hold a massive 13-point advantage over their title rivals, but FCN are struggling in 15th and only lie above the drop zone on goal difference. However, the stats since the mid-season restart tell a completely different story. Two games into the second half of the season FCB have six points with seven goals scored and none conceded – but Nürnberg boast exactly the same record except for a single goal against. So the meeting between the sides on Saturday (Live in English from 3.30 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio) pairs the two best teams in 2014. 

“It’s a huge derby and that’s always special,” Bayern boss Pep Guardiola said prior to his team’s final pre-match training session on Friday. The Spaniard is well aware that the trip to Nuremberg’s Grundig Stadion, where every last seat was sold months ago, poses a complex problem. “Winning in Nuremberg is always hard. It’s a big challenge for us, but also the next opportunity to take three points.“

Confidence at FCN

The Nürnberg players are thinking along exactly the same lines and the mood in the FCN camp is tingling with anticipation. “It’s a massive event for us. We get to test ourselves against the best team in the world. We’ll try and make it a very, very good game,” declared former Munich man Markus Feulner in an exclusive interview. “I hope we play an unbelievably good game and pose Bayern real problems.“

The first half of the season was a disaster for the men from Franconia, who set an unwanted league record by failing to win any of their first 17 games. But since the restart they have beaten Hoffenheim 4–0 and won 3–1 away to high-flying Hertha BSC, escaping the drop zone for the first time since Matchday 7. “But we’ve achieved nothing yet. We need a lot more points,” acknowledged Feulner, “there’s a long way to go before we’ve avoided relegation. We can’t let up now.”

Always tight

After the best start to the second half of the season in their history, FCN are determined to maintain their momentum and will take heart from recent results in the corresponding fixture: Nürnberg have lost only one of their last six home meetings with Bayern, with a win and four draws in the other matches. “We think we can take something from the game, even against Bayern,” said striker Daniel Ginczek.

Naturally, Guardiola’s men are deadly earnest about denying Ginczek his wish, although the FCB stars know they must not be blinded by last week’s 5–0 demolition job on Eintracht Frankfurt. “It’ll be a completely different game compared to Frankfurt. We’re away from home and we’ve often not played well in Nuremberg recently,” commented Jérôme Boateng. “Nürnberg are very good at home and recent games have always been extremely tight,“ continued the central defender. “But at the end of the day it’s up to us. We have to resist them and play to our normal high level.“

Early goal could be crucial

Xherdan Shaqiri also thinks it will be a “tough game. We need to put Nürnberg under pressure from the off and try and score as soon as possible. If you fall behind in Nuremberg it’s very difficult to turn it round.” The Swiss international called for focus and hard work: “We know it won’t be easy. We’ll need a good performance if we’re to win.”

In terms of team selection Guardiola will make at least one enforced change after Franck Ribéry underwent surgery on Thursday. Bastian Schweinsteiger resumed squad training on Wednesday but is not yet match fit, and Holger Badstuber is continuing his sports rehab programne. Guardiola otherwise picks from a full squad.