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Preview: First league fixture

Champions target win over Wolves

The media centre at Bayern's Säbener Strasse facility was as full as anyone can remember on Thursday, as reporters from all over the world, including on this occasion Malaysia and Japan, flocked to hear Pep Guardiola discuss the official Bundesliga restart fixture between FC Bayern and VfL Wolfsburg on Friday (Live in English from 8:30 pm CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio). The media throng witnessed a confident Bayern coach, although the Spaniard reminded his audience of the tricky task against the Wolves in the light of the double winners’ difficult pre-season preparations.

“Playing one of the best teams in the league when you’re in our situation isn't easy,” Guardiola remarked. The Reds are without Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribéry, Javi Martínez, Thiago, Rafinha, Jérôme Boateng and Mitchell Weiser due to injury and suspension, while the German World Cup winners and semi-finalists Dante and Arjen Robben have only been back in training for a couple of weeks. Guardiola is refusing to use any of that as an excuse: “I'm not concerned. The solution is to run hard and simply play our football. Winning the first match would be very important for our confidence.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is expecting a “difficult” opening game, due to Wolfsburg enjoying “the small but pleasant advantage” of having supplied fewer players to the tournament in Brazil. “But we're still well-prepared. We have a clear target this season: we want to retain our league title,” Rummenigge declared.

Live all over the world

Live coverage of Friday's league opener will be broadcast in a total of 207 countries around the world. “I'm looking forward to it,” said Guardiola, who enters his second season at the Munich helm. “I know my team much better than last year,” he commented, although he added a note of caution: “I believe the next one or two months will be very, very difficult and dangerous.” The Catalan has formulated a realistic target for the period through to Christmas: “We need to be in a good position when we get to the winter break,” ready to push on in the second half of the season.

Despite the warning, Guardiola is convinced 2014/15 “will be another good season. My players are total professionals. They love this football club, and they love winning, winning, and winning again.” Bayern fans everywhere are hoping the stars can do just that against Wolfsburg. “I'm not at all worried that we might not be mentally ready,” said captain Philipp Lahm. As for Holger Badstuber, last weekend's comeback hero is bristling with intent: “It's a big match, the big opening fixture, and that's what we've been working towards.”

Pre-match news from VfL Wolfsburg

  • Unavailable: Diego Benaglio (flu), Felipe (circulatory disorder), Patrick Ochs (ruptured cruciate), Christian Träsch, Ivan Perisic (both shoulder operations)
  • Doubtful: Luiz Gustavo, Nicklas Bendtner (both not yet match fit)
  • Coach Dieter Hecking: “We want to take advantage if Bayern show any weakness. We mustn't make ourselves out to be less good than we are. But we'll need a really good day if we’re to cause Bayern any trouble.”