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'Important to get off to a good start'

Bayern fired up for clash in Berlin

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FC Bayern starts the second half of the season away to Hertha Berlin on Sunday (follow the action from 9:30 am ET with our live updates at fcbayern.com), and the reigning champions' mission is clear: they want to reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga table.

"We have the quality to win the championship title. We'll try everything to achieve it again this year," a confident Hansi Flick said. Just like last season, Bayern must catch up with the table-toppers in the second half of the season. They are currently four points short of Leipzig.

The situation

The end of the year was positive for Bayern. They won their three Bundesliga matches before the winter break and rounded off a perfect Champions League group stage. The Bavarians aim to pick up where they left off against Berlin despite a lengthy injury roster. "It's important to get off to a good start. We have a tough program, so it's crucial to start well," said Flick. Bayern has won their matches on Bundesliga Matchday 18 in six of the last seven campaigns, and they aim to extend their run on Sunday. "The players are fired up and want to be successful," the 54-year-old declared.

The opponents

Berlin, lying 12th in the table, were on an upward trend before the winter break. Under former Bayern coach Jürgen Klinsmann, who took over from Ante Čović at the end of November, Hertha has taken eight points from their last four matches. Flick issued a warning: "All teams up their game when they take on FC Bayern. Jürgen [Klinsmann] will motivate his team, that's his quality."

Reunion: Jürgen Klinsmann coached FC Bayern in the 2008/09 season. Thomas Müller made his pro debut under today's Hertha coach.

Team news

Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry resumed training this week and are fit for the match: "The personnel situation has improved," commented Flick. However, the FCB coach will be without Niklas Süle (torn cruciate), Lucas Hernández (ankle surgery), Javi Martínez (thigh injury) and Kingsley Coman (capsule tear).

Joshua Kimmich will serve a one-match ban. The 24-year-old will not be part of FC Bayern's starting XI for the first time in 54 matches, since April 21st, 2018. Reserve player Sarpreet Singh, who trained with the pros recently, will not be available for selection after seeing a red card in a third-division match.

What the coaches say

Hansi Flick: "The coaching staff and I are looking forward to the second part of the season. It's another tough task in Berlin, they're very well-organized in defense. They've shown that in the last few matches, they concede very few chances. They're compact, they let their opponents have the ball and try to break quickly. We must prepare for that."

Jürgen Klinsmann (Hertha Berlin): "Our situation is completely different from that of FC Bayern. We're still in the relegation battle, we're not far enough off the bottom of the table to take a breather. We have a lot of work to do. Our goal is to push to our limits, to give it everything, to make the fans get behind us, to toil and take points. We need every point to extend the gap to the bottom of the table."

Top fact

Manuel Neuer knows how to beat Hertha. The Bayern captain has won 16 of his 20 Bundesliga duels with the men from the capital, with three draws and one defeat. The 33-year-old has kept 14 clean sheets against Hertha, more than against any other Bundesliga side.

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