Created on 02-05-2014 at 16:00 PM
With Bayern’s dream of another appearance in the Champions League final evaporating against Real Madrid last Tuesday, the Reds now have three more games until the domestic season comes to an end. The run-in starts with the Bundesliga trip to relegation-threatened Hamburger SV on Saturday (Live in English from 3.30 pm CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio). The champions will be looking to rebuild their form in the build-up to the DFB Cup final against Dortmund in Berlin on 17 May, but the Bundesliga founder members need every point they can get in order to avoid a first-ever relegation to the second tier.
“We want to go to Berlin in the best possible mood,“ FCB coach Pep Guardiola commented at the Säbener Strasse facility on Friday, hoping that a victory away to the team in 16th will help lift the understandably subdued mood in the dressing room. “We’ve suffered a big defeat. But we have to move on,” continued Guardiola, calling for a reaction to the Real reverse in the shape of “the best-possible performance” from his players in Hamburg. “We need to focus on Hamburg and [next week’s opponents] Stuttgart as good preparation for the cup final.“
However, Guardiola revealed, Saturday’s team will not be the final line-up for the Dortmund clash. As always, the coach will leave his selection decisions until the last day prior to any given match: “We’ll pick the players who are best for this particular game.” Rafinha is definitely out of contention as he completes a three-match ban. Injured trio Xherdan Shaqiri, Thiago and Holger Badstuber are also unavailable.
HSV remain defiant
Hamburg are in an unusually tricky position with two games to go in the current Bundesliga campaign. HSV have only picked up four points from the last seven matches and their previous three outings have all ended in defeat. The northerners are in the play-off spot at the moment just one point ahead of FC Nürnberg in seventeenth and two ahead of bottom-of-the-table Eintracht Braunschweig. “We're in a difficult situation but a a long way from throwing in the towel,” declared a defiant general manager Oliver Kreuzer.
Coach Mirko Slomka does not believe Bayern's overwhelming defeat against Real Madrid will help his team in this weekend's Bundesliga fixture. “It won't affect our match,” said Slomka who was keeping his cards close to his chest regarding his plans for the encounter with the champions: “We'll have to play out of our skins if we want to get a result against Bayern.” Rafael van der Vaart added: “Obviously we hope they're off form but they won't be giving anything away. We need to be right on top of our game.”
The HSV captain is expected to return to the starting line-up after recovering from a calf injury. “I've trained for two days and I feel good,” said the Dutchman. Heiko Westermann returns after a bout of flu with ex-Bayern man Marcell Jansen and Hakan Calhanoglu also available again after injury. Hamburg strikers Jacques Zoua and Pierre-Michel Lasogga are sidelined and Tolgay Arslan is suspended.