Created on 01-04-2016 at 14:45 PM
International breaks are tricky for club coaches, especially in March, with the decisive weeks of the season imminent. Will all the players return fit? Have they maintained their form? Saturday will provide Pep Guardiola with an answer to the latter question as FC Bayern cross swords with Eintracht Frankfurt at the Allianz Arena (Live in English from 15.30 CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio). He was already in a position to answer the first one on Friday.
“Almost all my players are fit,” the Catalan commented at the pre-match press conference, “the return trip is always complicated for South American players, but they’ve returned fit.” Guardiola declined to rule out a breather for Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa against Eintracht. Apart from long-term absentees Jérôme Boateng, Holger Badstuber and Arjen Robben, Pep Guardiola has to make do without Mehdi Benatia, who can only manage gentle running sessions at present due to muscular problems.
New coach, new enthusiasm
Only a win counts against the side lying 17th in the table as chief competitors Borussia Dortmund are anything but shaken off. “We mustn't drop points,” declared Guardiola: “From now on every match is a final. There are no differences in importance between the games any more.” Of course he studied Bayern's next Champions League opponents Benfica during the international break, but “at this moment the Frankfurt match is most important. We have to be ready.”
The more so as the men from Hesse are to a certain extent an unknown quantity at the moment. It was only three weeks ago that they installed a new coach, Niko Kovac. “A new coach always means new enthusiasm and new ideas,” warned Guardiola, who expects Frankfurt to be “very aggressive. Like Mainz, like Darmstadt: very complicated!” Bayern were held to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture. The German record champions aim to do better in front of their own crowd because “the next few weeks define our season.”
Pre-match news from Frankfurt:
- Unavailable: Anderson, Flum, Gacinovic (all rehab), Medojevic (Achilles surgery), Meier (knee), Reinartz (stomach upset), Rinderknecht, Bunjaki (both not in squad)
- Coach Niko Kovac: "We definitely won't just pack everyone into our own penalty area and park the team bus in front of the goal. We also aim to pose a threat to the Bayern goal. It'll obviously be a difficult game but we're sports people. And as a sports person you look to win or take points wherever you go.“