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Robben set for comeback

FCB target 1,000th league victory

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Who will make the starting line-up? Who begins on the bench? Who is condemned to watch from the stands? These questions can be annoying for a coach. In this respect Pep Guardiola does not have much to worry about at the moment. “We only have 12, 13 outfield players,” the FCB head coach calculated one day before Saturday's home meeting with Köln (Live in English from 15.30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio). He did not sound happy when he said it.

In effect, the starting line-up pretty much picks itself. In an ideal world Guardiola would like to give some members of his squad a rest in view of the current run of midweek games. “But we can’t rotate much,” the Catalan noted. At least the injury list has not lengthened since the Champions League match against Arsenal in London. The selection situation could even improve a little.

That’s because Arjen Robben is set to return. On Friday evening a decision will be taken as to whether the Dutchman can play after being sidelined for seven weeks with a thigh injury. “We'll talk after training, with the player and the doctor. If he feels fit he's in the squad,” Guardiola announced.

'A big thing'

There are more doubts with regard to Kingsley Coman (muscular problems) and Javi Martínez who has “some problems here and there,” commented Guardiola, “that's normal if you've been injured for 14 months.” Both have to wait and see how they cope with the final pre-match training session, as does Robben. Mario Götze, Franck Ribéry, Mehdi Benatia and Sebastian Rode definitely miss out.

No matter who plays, the Bavarians want the next victory against Köln. It is essential to “swiftly move on” and forget the last match, regardless of the result, stressed Guardiola: “Keep going, keep going!” Against the men from Cologne the German record champions can expect to face another defensive team, “like Arsenal, like Bremen,” commented the head coach.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge also focused on the next game in his speech to the banquet in London on Tuesday, issuing a rallying call to the players. First, they can extend the Bundesliga starting record of nine wins in a row: “It could be a record that stands for all time.” Second, they can wrap up Bayern’s 1,000th victory in the Bundesliga. “That too would be a mark no-one in Germany has ever achieved.” Guardiola concluded with a promise: “It's a big thing. We'll try.”