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"Vigour and motivation" for Liverpool game

Bayern "spurred on" for decisive weeks

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The battle on three fronts is slowly heating up for Bayern. Four days out from the Champions League round of 16 second leg against Liverpool, the record German champions host VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday (kick-off 15:30, coverage available via our live ticker) in an important game for the Bundesliga title race. “It’s a fine line,” Niko Kovac said of the current situation where he needs to conserve the team’s energy in a busy period of football.

That, however, changes nothing when it comes to the aims for the match against the Wolves. “First thing’s first, we have to win on Saturday because that then gives us the vigour, motivation and hopefully the euphoria for the Liverpool game,” the 47-year-old said, while at the same time warning of a form Wolfsburg side. “They’re on a really good run and are the second-best away team in the league after us. We absolutely have to watch our backs."

Seven points made up in four weeks

Thanks to a monumental effort, Bayern wiped out a seven-point gap to leaders Borussia Dortmund inside just four games and are now level with BVB at the top of the table. The Munich club therefore have no intention of letting that hard work go to waste. “We have to do our homework, otherwise it was all for nothing,” Kovac demanded. However, being back level with Dortmund has “spurred the team on”.

“We’re getting close to the end, I can sense that every day in training and see it in my players’ body language. There’s still three months in which we can win everything, but we have to stretch ourselves for that,” the Bayern coach declared. The German champions are therefore ready for the final stretch but will have to begin without the services of Arjen Robben (calf injury), Corentin Tolisso (knee) and Kingsley Coman (muscle tear) in Saturday’s game. There’s also still a question mark over the fitness of David Alaba after he missed out on Friday afternoon’s final training session.

Wolves in form

In his pre-match press conference, Wolfsburg boss Bruno Labbadia spoke of an “examination” for his team. The Lower Saxony side are unbeaten in their last five league games so are full of confidence. “We want to try and play our game. When we’ve got the ball we need to have ideas to free ourselves from their unwanted embrace,” said the 53-year-old, who will be without Daniel Ginczek, Ignacio Camacho (both ankle) and Ismail Azzaoui (knee) for the visit to the Allianz Arena.