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South German derby

Guardiola expects 'attractive’ Stuttgart clash

FC Bayern have played six games in 18 days of late, with the 5-1 victory over Arsenal just two days ago undoubtedly one of the highlights. The Reds aim to build on that display when they round off the second of the two traditionally busy autumn periods with the Bundesliga clash at home to VfB Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena on Saturday (Live in English from 15:30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio).

The men from Munich are not concerned that their recent exertions might lead to a below-par performance against their South German rivals. “We’ll still have enough strength for the VfB match,” insisted Manuel Neuer. Indeed, the league leaders will go all-out for victory, said Philipp Lahm. “Of course we want to win,” declared the Bayern captain, whose team-mates intend to use the gala display against the Gunners as the launch pad for a new and long winning run in the Bundesliga.

“It’ll be a different match compared to Frankfurt,” commented Jérôme Boateng. Eintracht held Bayern to a goalless draw last weekend, “but I don’t think Stuttgart will just park the bus.” VfB are second only to Bayern for shots at goal this term, supporting the centre-back’s thesis. “They’ll press hard at times in the game. It’s what they’re set up to do under their new coach. It’ll be an interesting game!”

Pep urges caution

“Stuttgart have huge attacking potential, so they’ll be going for goal. They won’t try for a goalless draw,” agreed Robert Lewandowski. Alexander Zorniger’s team are languishing in 15th but are largely considered to be much better than their position in the table suggests: they are the league’s fourth-highest scorers on 17 goals. They have also performed with credit away from home, most recently in a 4-3 defeat at Leverkusen, when they twice failed to preserve a two-goal lead. “They’re good and we’ll have to watch ourselves,” said Lewandowski. “It’s important we impose ourselves on the match.”

Pep Guardiola is aware of the visitors’ quality. “I’m impressed with the way they play,” said the coach, “their pressing game is very good and they have bags of aggression. They really should have more points.” In terms of the home line-up, Guardiola is likely to field an unchanged squad compared to the Arsenal match, although he ruled out a starting XI comeback for Holger Badstuber: “It’s still too early,” the Catalan stated.

Zorniger praises ‘sensational’ Bayern

In the build-up, Stuttgart were making no secret of their respect for Bayern’s current form. “Their transitions are sensational, and they create situations you just can’t defend,” commented VfB coach Zorniger, “there’s no master plan when you play Bayern.” However, Zorniger and his men are by no means running up the white flag prior to the “special experience” of playing at the Allianz Arena: “We’ll go to Munich aiming to set them a challenge.”

Zorniger is without keeper Mitchell Langerak (not match fit) and strikers Daniel Ginczek (sports rehab) and Martin Harnik (torn ligament). On the plus side, Filip Kostic “could be in contention for the squad,” the coach announced. The 7,500 travelling fans from Stuttgart would be only too delighted if the deadly Serb featured at some point, and it would certainly only enhance a potentially exciting contest. Guardiola for one has no doubts on that score: “It’ll be a very attractive game for the fans!”