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Situation 'critical’

FCB forced to improvise against Frankfurt

The 2014/15 campaign is rapidly approaching its climax, just the wrong time for the injury situation at FC Bayern to take another turn for the worse. Centre-back Mehdi Benatia is out of action after rupturing a muscle in the midweek DFB Cup meeting with Leverkusen, meaning FCB are without a total of seven first-team players for the visit of Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday (Live in English from 15:30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio).

“The situation is critical, very critical,” admitted Bayern boss Pep Guardiola after his team’s pre-match training session at the Säbener Strasse on Friday. In his entire playing and coaching career, said the Spaniard, he had “never before” faced a similarly difficult set of circumstances. Rubbing salt into the wound, junior pro Sinan Kurt was laid low by illness on Friday. “We had lots of problems before the game in Leverkusen, and now we have even more,” Guardiola continued.

Four days prior to the Champions League quarter-final first leg away to FC Porto, Guardiola will be forced to improvise when picking his team to face Eintracht. Following the intense 120-minute encounter with Leverkusen, “all the players are very tired,” the Catalan reported. Nor does Guardiola have the options for wholesale rotation, as the likes of Philipp Lahm, Thiago and Holger Badstuber are yet to regain full match fitness after injury.

Four more wins needed

However, the coach will still send out a potent and powerful team at the Allianz Arena as the Reds aim to take the next step in retaining the league title. “We have to win four more matches. We’re up for it and we’ll fight to the end,” said Guardiola, “I have great faith in my players.” The coach feels his troops have pulled even closer together in recent matches, shrugging off the injury issues to record courageous successes in both Dortmund and Leverkusen.

“I’ve learned a lot about this group over the last few weeks,” said Guardiola, praising his players’ “passion and will to win.” Despite the current weariness, the boss is expecting more of the same against Eintracht. “I hope our heads can control our legs.” Frankfurt, who had no midweek game, have won only one of their last 32 matches in Munich, but Guardiola is still wary: “They’re a very attacking team with good players like Meier, Aigner and Stendera.”

Saturday’s match brings a reunion with former team-mates for Sebastian Rode. “I’m really looking forward to the game,” said the ex-Frankfurt man, who actually scored Eintracht’s last goal against FCB almost exactly four years ago. Frankfurt’s Alex Meier, currently top of the Bundesliga goalscoring chart with 19 goals, is no longer a contender to wrest that honour from Rode: the striker was ruled out on Friday afternoon due to a knee tendon problem. Overall, Thomas Schaaf’s men have scored 51 goals in the league this term, but their poor record of 54 conceded is the worst in the top flight.

Pre-match news from Eintracht Frankfurt:

  • Unavailable: Alexander Meier (knee), Carlos Zambrano (torn muscle), Marco Russ (knee surgery)

  • Coach Thomas Schaaf: “Bayern Munich are the best team in the world, but our performance is my priority. We have to believe in our own ability. We need the conviction that we can take something, even from this game.”

  • Captain Kevin Trapp: “We can be awkward opponents. It’s not totally impossible to survive in Munich. It’s one of those games where we have nothing to lose. Despite their injuries FC Bayern are the gold standard. We’ll have to give it 100 percent and more.”