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‘Not easy’

FCB launch Bundesliga mission in Frankfurt

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FC Bayern have done what they had to do in the Champions League and DFB Cup for this calendar year, so the full focus at the club is now on the Bundesliga, with seven fixtures still to go before the mid-season break. The leaders are keen to make the most of the opportunity: “Our rivals are only four points behind,” said Pep Guardiola on Friday, “so we’ll try to maintain or extend our lead.”

The mission in the domestic league kicks off away to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday (Live in English from 15:30 / 3.30 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio). On paper, Bayern start as overwhelming favourites against the side lying 12th in the table, who have lost four matches on the trot and have only won one of their last 13 meetings with FCB. However, warned Guardiola, games are not won and lost on paper but on the field of play.

The coach reckons the men from Hesse will be brimming with desire: “They’ll summon up their best, regardless of what’s happened recently.” The Spaniard is wary of Eintracht’s potent attack, “because they score lots of goals.” Frankfurt have 17 from ten matches so far, the third best total in the league, “and they’re hard to work out, because they use a number of different formations under Thomas Schaaf. It’s hard to say what they’re going to do.”

Rode and Robben standing by

“Yet again, it won’t be easy,” agreed Mario Götze. The 22-year-old is the Bundesliga’s joint top scorer along with three other strikers – one of them being Frankfurt stalwart Alexander Meier. “We’re not afraid of Bayern,” the 30-year-old declared, promising a contest full of “fighting spirit and determination.” FCB’s Sebastian Rode, who played for Eintracht until last summer, knows his former team-mates will be up for it: “It won’t be easy, and Bayern have always struggled in Frankfurt, as I can testify for myself.”

FCB won the last two editions of the fixture by the only goal of the game, with the two preceding matches ending in a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 win to Frankfurt. Rode, who scored Eintracht’s most recent goal against Germany’s biggest club back in April 2011, could appear against his ex-club on Saturday. “It’s an option,” said Guardiola as he contemplates his line-up following the addition of David Alaba to an injury roster already bearing the names Schweinsteiger, Thiago, Martínez, Badstuber, Reina, Pizarro and Starke.

The head coach said he would finalise his selection on the day of the match as always, by when he will know whether Arjen Robben is fit to play. The Dutchman missed the midweek Champions League victory over Roma with a stomach upset but took part in Friday’s training session. “If he feels ready to play, he’ll fly to Frankfurt with us,” said Guardiola. However, line-up questions are not the top priority at FCB for now, because Bayern have an overriding collective target, Philipp Lahm declared: “We want to keep doing our thing through to the winter break, and that means winning our matches.”