Franck Ribéry and Javi Martinez are sidelined, but Arjen Robben returns to the squad for the first time in four weeks when Bayern seek to extend their record start to the Bundesliga season to nine straight wins with victory over Bayer Leverkusen at the Allianz Arena on Sunday (Live in English from 5.30 pm CET on FCB.tv Web Radio). The visitors are welcome guests, as they have not won in Munich for 23 years.
“But I care nothing for statistics," declared Jupp Heynckes, fully aware that FCB's startling home record against Leverkusen is no guarantee of three points at the weekend. “We'd be well advised to keep our feet on the ground, approach it professionally, and not rely on statistics," continued the Bayern coach, “instead, we should carry on doing what we've been doing in the league so far."
The nation's most successful club are focused and concentrating hard on making it nine wins on the bounce since the start of the campaign. “From the start, we must be wide awake," insisted Philipp Lahm, “if we impose our authority on the game there can only be one winner, and that will be us." However, the FCB captain is wary about the visitors from the Rhineland: “Leverkusen are a dangerous team," he admonished.
Robben and Contento return to squad
Bayer comfortably defeated Rapid Vienna 4-0 away from home in the Europa League on Thursday, confirming their current good form. Leverkusen are undefeated in their last eight competitive matches, and are second only to Bayern in the Bundesliga in creating clear-cut chances (22 to FCB's 26). They also trail only Munich in terms of shots at goal (103 to Bayern's 121), and centre-forward Stefan Kiessling is the Bundesliga's leading scorer in the calendar year 2012 on 18 goals, five of them this term.
“Leverkusen are in very good shape at the moment. They play flowing, attractive football and they’re are very skilful," observed former Bayer boss Heynckes, who is without Ribéry (hamstring), Martinez (groin) and Daniel van Buyten (bruised ribs) on Sunday. On the plus side, Robben resumed the squad training programme on Friday and makes his long-awaited return to the squad. Diego Contento has completely recovered from a hairline fracture of the foot and could make a first appearance in the senior squad this term.
Leverkusen keen to banish jinx
In the aftermath of the midweek trip to Vienna, one or two question-marks hang over the Leverkusen line-up. Stefan Reinartz (groin) and Sidney Sam (sprain) are doubtful. Left-back Michal Kadlec (knee ligaments) and attacking midfielder Renato Augusto (ruptured muscle) are definitely out.
Despite the selection concerns, and the club’s extremely poor record in Munich, the men from the Rhineland are determined not to surrender without a fight. “We aim to come away with a result," declared keeper Bernd Leno. Coach Sami Hyypia opted for understatement: “It'll be very difficult for us, but you never know. Anything can happen in football."