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'Maintain the lead'

Alaba set to return as FCB take on high-flying Hertha

The traffic in Munich often slows down journeys, as the Bayern pros experienced at first hand on Friday. Jérôme Boateng for instance hit the road in perfectly good time, but still arrived late for his press conference. On Saturday however, the Reds have no intention of being held up on Bundesliga Matchday 14 when they entertain Hertha Berlin at the Allianz Arena (Live in English from 15.30 CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio).

“I wouldn't have expected to see them so far up the table, but they deserve it,” commented Boateng, full of respect for the displays his former team-mates have turned in. Philipp Lahm too is “surprised,” but acknowledged the “very good development” fourth-placed Hertha have taken. The captain expects “dangerous opponents” on Saturday afternoon.

“It's going to be a good match,” added Boateng, who is convinced that the encounter between the leaders and the side lying fourth will be a top match, both on paper and in reality: “We're looking forward to it.” Even though the Berlin-born defender has not played for Hertha since 2007, the 27-year-old still finds duels with his home club “a nice thing”. Boateng and Hertha coach Pal Dardai were once team-mates, “and I think he has a good relationship with the team.” But Boateng & Co want to avoid a surprise in Munich: “We’re aiming to win!”

Costa sidelined, Alaba returns

Pep Guardiola, who could not oversee the final training session due to a private appointment, is likely to make changes to the starting line-up compared to the team that downed Olympiacos 4-0 in the Champions League. “We have very many players, very many matches, there will be rotation, there has already been rotation,” said Lahm: “Every player is important for us, everyone has to turn in good displays, in training and in matches. This motivates the players too.”

Douglas Costa will be sidelined against the men from the capital due to a sprain. David Alaba might return to the squad as he completed the final workout after recovering from a knee injury. The match comes too early for Franck Ribéry and Spaniards Thiago and Juan Bernat, who worked individually on their comebacks on Friday. Regardless of the personnel situation the men from Munich want to “maintain the eight-point lead we've accumulated,” according to Lahm.

No reunion with Weiser

Dardai travels to the Bavarian state capital “with great respect. Nevertheless I come here in a good mood. We have 23 points and don't have to look for a hiding place.” After his successful mission as last campaign's 'saviour' Hertha's coach quickly moulded a team that has climbed up the rankings. “We just have a good mix that’s enabling us to develop as a team,” added defender Sebastian Langkamp.

Hertha will focus on defending well at the Allianz Arena, announced Dardai: “It would be a huge joke if I told you we're going to attack.” Langkamp would like to take at least one point “if possible.” The men from Berlin are “99 percent certain” to try it without Mitchell Weiser. The former Bayern pro will miss the reunion with his old team-mates due to an injury – unless Hertha have another surprise up their sleeves.

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