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Augsburg clash

Coman makes squad debut, Martinez returns

The fundamental objective in football is to score, with the right boot, the left, the head, or indeed anything except the hand and arm. All that matters is the ball crossing the line. As a result, after a punishing pre-match workout on Friday and with Philipp Lahm already winding down over a cold drink, the FCB forwards were still out on the practice ground. Pep Guardiola wants his men to make better use of their chances, so a six-strong group of strikers comprising Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze, Douglas Costa, Kingsley Coman and Julian Green put in 20 extra minutes of shooting practice prior to Saturday’s Bavarian derby against FC Augsburg (Live in English from 15:30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio).

Bayern’s head coach is leaving nothing to chance. Augsburg have made a patchy start to the season with only a single point from three games, but Guardiola has lost two of the previous four Bundesliga meetings between the clubs in his time as FCB coach. “You can’t forget we were already champions of Germany when we lost those two games,” noted the Spaniard, “but they’re always difficult to play against. They’re aggressive, passionate and full of enthusiasm.”

Guardiola believes his team is fully prepared. “I have a lot of confidence in my players.” That is not affected by the current relatively long injury list. Franck Ribéry, Mehdi Benatia, Holger Badstuber and Jan Kirchhoff have been sidelined for a long time, and now Arjen Robben has returned from international duty with Holland carrying a muscle injury. “I hope he’ll be back in two or three weeks. It’s very important for us,” declared Guardiola.

Fortunately, he has several high-quality alternatives on the wings. On one hand, of course, there is Douglas Costa. And young Frenchman Kingsley Coman is in the FC Bayern squad for the first time against Augsburg. ”We need special players like him for our game,” said Guardiola, “but he still needs time. He’s a young player.”

Maintaining form is crucial

Long-term injury absentee Javi Martínez will also need a little more time before returning to 100 percent fitness. However, the midfielder is making excellent progress and will join Coman in the 18-man matchday squad, Guardiola revealed. “It’s great news for us. He’s trained very hard recently and he’s had no problems. He’s a fighter, he has no fear and he’s determined to play again as soon as possible.” The defensive specialist has been sidelined so far this term with a stubborn knee tendon condition.

The men from Munich are thoroughly looking forward to the fourth Bundesliga fixture of the 2015/16 campaign. “We need to try and maintain our form despite the international break. I reckon we’ll play well,” said Guardiola, although he is wary of Saturday’s opponents: “Augsburg are in the Europa League and that says it all. They’re good.” Matthias Sammer could only agree: “It’s a significant game. It’s a bread-and-butter Bundesliga fixture, but if you’re aiming to win the league, these are the points you mustn’t drop.”

Pre-match news from Augsburg

Head coach Markus Weinzierl: “We’ll be well-prepared because we know FC Bayern well, including recent experiences when we’ve beaten them. It’ll be important we give everything we have as a team and also enjoy the rub of the green. However, a precondition for springing a surprise in Munich is to rise above yourself."

Unavailable: Philipp Max (flu), Sascha Mölders (back), Caiuby, Daniel Opare (sprains), Jan Moravek (not match fit), Shawn Parker (cruciate)