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Guardiola to rotate

FCB aim for ‘good finish’ against CSKA

FC Bayern secured top spot in Champions League Group E two matchdays ago, so Wednesday’s final first stage fixture at home to CSKA Moscow (Live in English from 20:45 / 8.45 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio) is technically meaningless, from an FCB point of view at least. But on the other hand, FC Bayern are FC Bayern – and the Munich giants want to win every game they play. “We play to win. That’s our job,” confirmed Pep Guardiola. Rafinha agreed with the coach: “Only 80 or 90 percent just isn’t on!”

And there are good reasons for winning too, including points for the UEFA club and country rankings, the win bonus, and a potential club record, although that would require victory by a four-goal margin. Furthermore, Bayern are determined to avoid any accusations of distorting the competitive situation in the group by not playing at full tilt, because everything is still at stake for all the other teams in the section: CSKA, AS Roma and Manchester City are all level on five points.

“It would be good to win on Wednesday,” agreed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Thomas Müller said: “We want another good performance and we should see that we entertain the fans. That’s what we’re here for.” What’s more, added Jerome Boateng, “we need to keep our rhythm and maintain our levels.” After Wednesday, the Reds still have three games to go before the winter break.

Respect for CSKA

It is a demanding run-in to the midpoint of the season – including the CSKA clash, Bayern will contest four games in the space of ten days - so Guardiola is contemplating a round of squad rotation for the European clash. “I don’t know how many, but it could well be that we see some new faces,” the coach announced, although he declined to name names. Some of the players are “a little tired,” the Spaniard stated, and Mehdi Benatia is in any case unavailable due to suspension.

Guardiola has great respect for Wednesday’s opponents: “They’re a team with big hearts. They won in Manchester, and they keep fighting to the last minute. They’ll do everything they can to seize their chance tomorrow.” The FCB coach is expecting the visitors to play a counter-attacking game and warned his men to beware the Russians’ pacey attackers, who caused the Munich defence a degree of trouble in the 1-0 win in the reverse fixture back in September. “We had a few problems,” Rafinha recalled, “we need to be very focused.”

Bayern’s philosophy on Wednesday will be to concentrate and maintain their momentum. “We want a good finish to the group stage,” declared Boateng, “it’s always great to win. Why would we ease up and risk a defeat?”