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Start against Stuttgart

Guardiola: It’s an important month

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Special weeks call for special measures, so FC Bayern are duly heading into the annual ‘frantic fall’ with a special version of their kit: the players will sport a large figure 1 on their chests for the next three Bundesliga matches as part of a promotion with main sponsor Telekom. The first of seven matches in the next 22 days is the 95th south German showdown with VfB Stuttgart on Saturday (Live in English from 3.30 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio).

“It’s an important month,” said Pep Guardiola on the eve of the clash in front of a sell-out crowd at the Allianz Arena. The coach has spent the international break preparing his men as well as possible for the busy schedule ahead. “The players have trained very well. They’re fit and ready,” continued the FCB coach, although the injury and absentee roster at the club remains long.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martínez, Thiago, Rafinha and Mitchell Weiser are definitely sidelined, with question-marks over Xabi Alonso and Arjen Robben, who both picked up knocks against Schalke 12 days ago. Guardiola is not yet ready to blood new signing Medhi Benatia in a red shirt: “He’s only trained with the team twice and needs a bit more time. He’s not ready yet, but he’ll definitely help us sooner or later – sooner, I hope.”

Boss’s praise for Ribéry

However, Franck Ribéry stands a good chance of making his first appearance of term. “He’s trained really well for the last ten to 14 days, and the pain’s almost gone,” revealed the coach, although he added an important caveat: “Let’s not forget he’s made perhaps one 90-minute appearance in the last three to four months.”

FCB won both league fixtures against VfB last term but needed last-minute winners both home and away, a fact that has not slipped Guardiola’s memory. “Stuttgart aren’t easy,” the Spaniard warned, pointing to VfB’s power on the break and quality in every area of the field, although Armin Veh’s side are still looking for their first win of the season.

The Bayern boss is certainly not worried for his team despite the tricky selection situation. “I trust the players who are fit,” he declared, “I’ll definitely have 11 players who can bring us a victory tomorrow.”

Pre-match news from VfB Stuttgart:

  • Unavailable: Mohammed Abdellaoue (cartilage), Daniel Ginczek (sports rehab after cruciate surgery)
  • Coach Armin Veh: “Even though Bayern are favourites, I want to see evidence of our desire to go there and win.”