Sat, Mar 08, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Bayern welcome back injured stars

ON THE WARPATH:Bayern Munich, who are so far ahead that they can wrap up the Bundesliga title before the end of the month, are tuning up for their Arsenal clash

AFP, BERLIN

Runaway leaders Bayern Munich are to be at virtually full strength for today’s Bundesliga clash at VfL Wolfsburg as they tune up for their clash next week in the Champions League against Arsenal.

Long-term knee-injury victim Holger Badstuber is the only absentee as stars Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller and Xherdan Shaqiri all return from recent knocks.

Ribery, UEFA’s best player in Europe last season, has not played for Bayern in more than a month after an operation on his buttocks, but made an appearance for France on Wednesday.

“I felt good, those few minutes against the Netherlands were good to get some match practice back. I’m ready,” Ribery said after France enjoyed a 2-0 win over the Netherlands.

Bayern are looking to extend their record unbeaten league run to 49 matches and to claim their 11th consecutive victory.

Fifth-placed Wolfsburg were hammered 6-2 at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Sunday and Bayern’s director of sport Matthias Sammer expects a backlash at the Volkswagen Arena.

“They suffered a setback in Hoffenheim and they will try and show a reaction, so we must have a few answers to that,” Sammer said.

With a 20-point lead, Bayern could even wrap up the Bundesliga title before the end of the month.

Coach Pep Guardiola will want a convincing win before Tuesday’s Champions League last-16, second-leg match at home to Arsenal, with the hosts leading 2-0 from the first leg in London.

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund head to SC Freiburg tomorrow with a shortage of strikers.

Poland’s Robert Lewandowski sat out Wednesday’s Germany international against Scotland with a knee strain and Germany Under-23 striker Marvin Ducksch is out for a fortnight with an ankle injury.

It leaves Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp with only reserve striker Julian Schieber fit, but Germany winger Marco Reus could be switched to play up front.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia is enduring the first crisis of his career after five straight defeats as they look for a first victory in seven years at Hannover 96 today.

“My coaching career has not been very long and this is the first time that I’m in such a situation,” the 40-year-old said.

“Of course, I have spoken to many people to ask advice on what I could do. I want to develop myself and I wouldn’t be learning so fast if we weren’t in this situation,” Hyypia added.

He is hoping to have defensive midfielder Sven Bender back after a dead leg.

Schalke 04 are looking to bounce back from successive horror defeats when they host Hoffenheim.

The Royal Blues were drubbed 6-1 by Real Madrid in the Champions League, then crashed 5-1 at Bayern on Sunday in the Bundesliga.

“We have to look forward now and give the right response on the pitch against Hoffenheim,” coach Jens Keller said.

Peru winger Jefferson Farfan is doubtful with an inflamed knee, while center-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos is definitely out after being sent off in Munich.

At the other end of the table, VfB Stuttgart coach Thomas Schneider must avoid a ninth straight defeat when his side host bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig.

Schneider came close to being dismissed after Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt and another loss would surely mean the 41-year-old being fired, despite having only taken charge in August last year.

Schneider has the fans’ backing, as the Mercedes Benz Arena will be sold out for only the second time this season.

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