presented by
Coach: We fight on

Lahm among absent eight for Hoffenheim trip

Increase font size Text size

We’ll start with the good news: on Friday, Bastian Schweinsteiger managed a few laps of the Säbener Strasse facility as he continues his recovery from a virus. However, the FCB vice-captain is still not well enough to feature in the Bundesliga fixture against TSG Hoffenheim in Sinsheim on Saturday (Live in English from 15:30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio), meaning the lengthy absentee roster at FC Bayern has not become any shorter. The reverse is unfortunately true, as captain Philipp Lahm was ruled out on the eve of the match due to gastroenteritis.

All in all, Pep Guardiola is without eight players for the clash against the side lying seventh in the table: Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, David Alaba, Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martínez and Tom Starke are definitely unavailable. On a more positive note, Mario Götze and Xabi Alonso have shaken off knocks picked up in the midweek Porto clash. “I think they’ll both be fit,” Guardiola reported.

On Friday, the 44-year-old emphatically reaffirmed his complete faith in the players at his disposal, despite the defeat to FC Porto - or even because of it. “More than ever, I want to fight on with these players,” Guardiola declared. For all the club’s injury woes, Bayern remain ten points clear in the Bundesliga and are through to the DFB Cup semis. They also remain firmly in contention in the Champions League. “These players are my heroes. They’ve been outstanding,” the Catalan commented.

Closing in on the title

FCB have never lost to TSG, winning nine and drawing four of the 13 meetings to date, and Guardiola is hoping that proud record can be maintained with another display of team spirit and an unyielding will to win on Saturday. “My players will try everything and do all they can,” the coach said. The fixture is sandwiched between the home and away legs of the Champions League tie against Porto, but the Spaniard said the timing was of no importance and his focus was entirely on Hoffenheim: “Tomorrow we can take another step towards defending our Bundesliga title.”

The home team are still in the hunt for a Europa League place but have won only one of their last five games. Coach Markus Gisdol does not believe the men from Munich will be anything other than deadly serious about the match. “They’ll do everything they can to come away feeling good and carry that momentum into the Champions League game on Tuesday,” said the 45-year-old, whose team will be at full strength with the exception of long-term absentee Niklas Süle (cruciate). “Bayern have always hit their stride again immediately after a defeat,” Gisdol continued, “it feels like 35 years since they lost two matches in a row.”