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Bundesliga restart

FCB look to extend lead in the table

FC Bayern return to the fray in search of points and titles after a 42-day mid-season break. The runaway league leaders kick off the second half of the season with a top-of-the-table clash at second-placed VfL Wolfsburg on Fridaynight (Live in English from 20:30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio). And the target is clear for the men from Munich: “We want to be champions of Germany as soon as possible,” reported sporting director Matthias Sammer to

The prospects of lifting the title are not at all bad. FCB have an 11-point lead at the halfway mark as they prepare to face second-placed VfL in Wolfsburg. “The game is a little bit special. We’ve got a great chance of extending our lead over the team below us,” said Thomas Müller. The result of the match will not settle the race for the title, “but it would be a step in the right direction,” declared keeper Manuel Neuer.

However, all that is of secondary importance. All the Bayern pros are looking forward to getting stuck in again after a six-week break. “We’re back in action now”, said Müller. “We’re really looking forward to the second half of the season and we hope we can make a good start in Wolfsburg against a very strong team,” added Bastian Schweinsteiger. “We’ll definitely need to put in a shift.”

Wolfsburg strong at home

Head coach Pep Guardiola is happy with the performance levels of his players after three weeks back on the training ground. “We’ve worked really hard,” explained the Spaniard before admitting: “We know how tough the second half of the season will be but we’re ready.” David Alaba, pushing for a start after recovering from injury, added: “We obviously want to carry on where we left off at the start of the winter break.”

Wolfsburg are unbeaten at home in the current league campaign and they will set out to give FCB a game in front of their own fans. “It’s not going to be a walkover. Wolfsburg are doing well and they’ve got strength in depth. It won’t be easy for us,” said Neuer in expectation of a battling performance by the Lower Saxony side.

“Wolfsburg are in good shape. The team are performing well. We need to produce a great performance to go there and win,” said Sammer, sounding a warning ahead of the match against the second best team in the league. The last defeat for the Wolves on their own turf was back in March 2013 - a 6-1 reverse against FCB.

Guardiola will have to make do without Franck Ribéry and Rafinha in the opening match after the duo were injured in training on Wednesday and are now ruled out for the next two weeks. “A World Cup winner will probably fill in. The quality is still there,” said Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking, aware of the strength of the FCB squad. Mario Götze, Juan Bernat or Alaba could replace Ribéry, Mitchell Weiser or Sebastian Rode are options in place of Rafinha.

Update on VfL Wolfsburg

  • Sidelined: Träsch (flu), Guilavogi, Ochs (both rehab training)
  • Coach Dieter Hecking: “A lot of people will have their fingers crossed for us to be the team to beat Bayern. They are currently the best side in Europe alongside Real Madrid. Our aim in the medium term is to be able to compete with teams like that. If we give one hundred percent in terms of work rate, commitment and footballing ability we’ll be an opponent that can not just annoy FC Bayern but also go on to give them a run for their money.”