Hoffenheim, Basel, Berlin, Gladbach, Hannover, Marseille, Nürnberg and Marseille again have all been beaten, but Bayern's current marathon is far from over. Four days after sealing a berth in the Champions League last four, FCB play their ninth match in 29 days when Bavarian rivals Augsburg visit the Allianz Arena on Saturday (Live in English from 3.30 pm CET on FCB.tv Web Radio).
Yet again, the latest derby promises to push FCB to the limit. “We've been warned. There's no way we’ll underestimate our opponents," insisted Manuel Neuer, recalling last autumn's reverse fixture against the promoted club, who have climbed to 14th and look a good bet to retain their top-flight status. The minnows came within an ace of claiming two points off their illustrious neighbours last November, but Neuer made a world-class save from Edmond Kapllani to prevent the home side salvaging a 2–2 draw. “It was a very tough match," the keeper reminded reporters.
However, FCA have made life difficult for other big-name clubs too, with a goalless draw against Dortmund, a 1–0 victory over Gladbach, and a 2–2 draw with Hanover. Augsburg have hit their stride in the second half of the season and have gone six league matches without defeat, a run second only to leaders BVB.
“They're on a roll and have nothing to lose," argued Holger Badstuber, “it's a highlight for them. They'll be totally motivated, so we'll have to be completely focused." The men from Munich know they must mentally block out the upcoming matches away to Dortmund and against Real Madrid. “The media are already talking about Dortmund and Madrid, but none of us thinks more than one match ahead," Badstuber stated.
“We've moved closer to Dortmund in the table, but the game against them is still miles away for us," agreed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, calling for total concentration on Saturday’s match. “If we slip up against Augsburg, it could be fatal," the chairman thundered. “We can't afford any mistakes," said Badstuber.
The Augsburg camp is openly contemplating the prospect of coming away from Munich with a result. President Walther Seinsch feels a point is “realistic", and general manager Andreas Rettig sees “no reason to be in awe of Munich. We're undefeated in the league for longer than them." Midfielder Tobias Werner promised the men in red “a fierce battle".
For FCA boss Jos Luhukay, Jupp Heynckes’ former assistant in Gladbach, it would be “a dream if we came away from Munich with a point or points. No one expects it, but if we maintain our recent form, we certainly have a small chance." The respected Dutchman has no intention of ordering his team to set out their defensive stall. “Just pulling men back won't do us any good. It makes it only a matter of time before Bayern score. We want to defend high up the field, and who knows, we may create chances of our own."
Luiz Gustavo suspended
Luhukay is without Torsten Oehrl (hamstring) and Daniel Brinkmann (groin), but Daniel Baier returns from illness. For the home side, Daniel van Buyten and Breno are still not fit, and Luiz Gustavo serves a one-match ban.
“We have to take our opponents seriously and we need the right attitude. Then I'm hoping our class makes the difference," said Neuer, assuming the game will be decided by mental rather than physical strength. Toni Kroos concluded with a rallying cry: “We absolutely have to take all three points."