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Focus on the league

Test of character in Leverkusen

Real Madrid? Carlo Ancelotti shakes his head. “I don’t want to talk about the game against Real Madrid,” said the FC Bayern head coach at Säbener Straße on Good Friday as he set out his side’s strategy: full focus on Leverkusen! “Tomorrow is an important game. We want to put in a good performance and win,” stressed the 57 year-old, who'd like to confirm the Reds’ Bundesliga title defence “sooner rather than later”, starting with three points from Saturday evening’s match at Bayer Leverkusen (18:30 CEST, live ticker and Webradio commentary).

However, the meeting with 12th-placed Leverkusen will be both a physical and mental challenge. The fixture comes in between the first and second legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid, with Real leading 2-1 at the halfway point. “We’re obviously not happy,” said Ancelotti, but he’s sure his team will now be switching their focus to Leverkusen. “I know my players very well and I’m confident they’ll play with character and personality tomorrow. I think we can show a positive reaction. Then we have time after that to think about the return leg against Real Madrid.”

Boateng to sit out

The battle with Real will clearly have an effect on how Bayern line up in Leverkusen, though. Ancelotti revealed he will be giving some tired players a rest. “I’ll look at training today and then decide about the line-up.” The Italian did confirm that Juan Bernat will start at left-back, with David Alaba switching to the centre of defence.

Jérôme Boateng will certainly be absent in Leverkusen. “Boateng has a minor problem with his adductor but we think he’ll be fine for Madrid,” said Ancelotti, who will also be without Robert Lewandowski (suspension) and Mats Hummels (ankle injury). Reserve team defender Nicolas Feldhahn will therefore be part of the squad.

Leverkusen won’t give visitors “any peace”

Bayern can expect an “intensive encounter” at the sold-out BayArena. “Leverkusen are a good side – aggressive, hard-working and strong on the counter,” said Ancelotti. Bayer coach Tayfun Korkut called for a “dogged” performance from his team: “We can’t give the opponents any peace and must try to control the game in our favour.” Die Werkself won’t be at full strength either, though. Chicharito, Jonathan Tah (both thigh), Lars Bender (ankle operation) and Hakan Calhanoglu (CAS suspension) will all be missing.