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‘Three vital points’

Hannover trip: Lahm sidelined but FCB 'upbeat'

As usual, the Bayern stars will scatter to all corners of the earth following the final match of the year, and Pep Guardiola is no exception. “I’m flying to Barcelona on Sunday. My mother and father deserve to see their beloved son. I’m looking forward to it,” the FCB coach stated. But before Pep and company head off to Chile, Poland and so on, Bayern have one last appointment prior to the mid-season break, the Bundesliga trip to Hannover 96 on Saturday (Live in English from 15:30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio).

Guardiola feels the outcome will turn on whether his men are “mentally already on holiday.” The home team are languishing in 16th, but even the league leaders will be vulnerable if they lack the necessary focus. “Hannover aren’t exactly in a comfortable position in the table, and I saw how well they played in their last home match against Ingolstadt,” warned the Catalan, aware that the Lower Saxony outfit will fight with everything they have. Guardiola remains “upbeat. I think we’ll play well.”

The coach expressed admiration for his team’s performances in the first half of the current campaign. “Our record is unbelievable,” he declared, impressed at the players’ hunger and powers of concentration despite a long and trophy-laden run of success. The Reds were crowned unofficial ‘autumn champions’ for the fifth time in a row last weekend and have endeared themselves to their supremo with “the best football since I’ve been here. I’m really proud of these players.”

Decimated squad

FCB lead the Bundesliga by five points and aim to at least maintain that advantage in the last match of 2015. Xabi Alonso reckoned “three very important points” are at stake in Hannover, although the selection situation at the club has in fact worsened from an already problematic position: captain Philipp Lahm took a knock in the midweek DFB Cup meeting with Darmstadt and is out of contention. A total of eight senior players are unavailable, “so we have 13 outfield players and two goalkeepers,” Guardiola reported.

In the light of the injury crisis and Munich’s energy-sapping schedule in recent weeks, the Hannover camp is hoping to spring a surprise. “Bayern aren’t entirely fresh. We’ll do everything we can to take the points,” declared coach Michael Frontzeck, “we’re not planning to pull everyone back into our own box.”

Pre-match news from Hannover:

Unavailable: Artur Sobiech (ankle), Hiroshi Kiyotake (fractured foot), Oliver Sorg (sprain)
Doubtful: Uffe Bech (ribs)