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'Move up a gear'

'Passion and commitment' on road to Berlin

The treble last season. Then the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. And finally the earliest German league title win of all time in 2014. That can hardly be topped – and yet Bayern still want more. One target is to retain the Champions League title. And another is to lift the DFB Cup again. The semi-final against FC Kaiserslautern on Wednesday night (Live in English from 8.30 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio)provides Bayern with the opportunity to make it to the final in Berlin three times in succession.

“We need to give 100 percent, be focused and avoid making as many mistakes as we did against Dortmund,” demanded skipper Philipp Lahm. Speaking at the pre-match press conference on Tuesday, Pep Guardiola called on his players to pull out all the stops after the 3-0 defeat against Borussia Dortmund: “We need passion and commitment. Only then will we be able to get to Berlin, come through the games against Real, and play in the Champions League final.”

Bayern are taking nothing for granted on Wednesday night when they face the second division side in front of a capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena. “Obviously you expect to go through,” said Toni Kroos, “but Leverkusen also expected that in the last round.” Bayer 04 were the favourites to win at home in the quarter-final against the Red Devils, who are currently on a run of seven games unbeaten in the second division. “We need to move up a gear,” added Kroos.

Neuer doubtful

Guardiola believes it is a question of mentality. “It all comes down to the final games of the season,” said Guardiola: “We have outstanding players. But they have to put in the work up front and in defence. Everybody needs to help each other out. We need to return to our way of playing and don't give the opposition any time to think.” The Spaniard is confident he will find “the right solutions” after the 1-0 defeat at Augsburg and the 3-0 reverse against Borussia Dortmund. “Defeats are sometimes very good in making you improve.”

It remains to be seen whether Manuel Neuer will be able to play against FCK with a late fitness test to decide on Wednesday. The Germany keeper suffered a slight calf injury against Dortmund. “I hope he can play, I’ll speak to the doctors,” said Guardiola. If it is too risky, youngster Lukas Raeder is ready to step into the breach as he did against BVB. Tom Starke, Thiago, Xherdan Shaqiri, Diego Contento and Holger Badstuber are all still sidelined.

FC Kaiserslautern are almost at full strength. The only definite absentee is Marcel Gaus who is recovering from a knee operation. “We’re aware of our inferiority and that can have a liberating effect on us,” said coach Kosta Runjaic at the press conference ahead of the cup semi-final, “I believe we have a chance.” The man from Vienna prepares to face “the best team in the world at the moment” in the clear conviction that: “If Bayern are on top of their game then there is only one opponent who beat them - and that's themselves.”