Bayern’s record run to be tested in Frankfurt
BERLIN - Agence Franc-Presse
German champion Bayern Munich looks unstoppable as the team is on a historic 43-match unbeaten run. Bayern, however, showed signs of fatigue in midweek when they escaped a defeat with two late goals in Stuttgart. Coach Pep Guardiola has warned his players, urging them to focus. AFP PhotoIt may have a 13-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga and be on a 43-match unbeaten run but Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has warned his team to stay focused.
The Bavarian giants host Eintracht Frankfurt at Munich’s Allianz Arena on Feb. 2 with wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben both back in contention after leg injuries. But despite their status as overwhelming favorites to retain the title this season, Guardiola says they cannot afford to take their eye off the ball, particularly following midweek’s last-minute 2-1 victory at VfB Stuttgart. “If a team doesn’t lose 43 times and everyone says that the Bundesliga (title-race) is over, with the championship is secured, it’s not easy for the player’s to stay focused,” said Guardiola.“To always win, win, win -- I know how difficult that is.”
The victory gave Bayern yet another league record as they went 28 away matches unbeaten, breaking Hamburg’s previous mark of 27 set in 1983.
Last season they broke or equalled 25 Bundesliga records, winning the title with a record six games to spare, as they finished up with a 25-point margin.
Stuttgart came the closest of any team to beating Bayern in the league this season until Thiago Alcantara’s last-minute bicycle kick broke their resistence.
That was enough to see the rest of the league as good as throw in the towel as far as the Bundesliga is concerned.
Guardiola has not even had his entire squad available so far this season with Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger the main star currently sidelined with a knee injury.
And Bayern’s main rivals Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen both admit that they are fighting for second place at best.
“Bayern aren’t from this world at the moment,” said Leverkusen’s director of sport Rudi Völler, whose team are second despite three successive defeats. “The danger is very real that it will be boring at the top.”
Bayer vs Stuttgart
Bayer Leverkusen hosts Stuttgart, who has also lost its last three, on Feb. 1 hoping to have Germany winger Sidney Sam back from injury, while they have signed experienced Mexico left winger Andres Guardado from Valencia on loan until the end of the season.
Third-placed Dortmund is also looking to end a run of poor performances, which saw the team pick up just five points in their last seven games. “Earning second-place would be like winning the championship now,” Dortmund midfielder Jonas Hofmann said. Dortmund has been blighted with injuries of late.
Poland winger Jakub Blaszczykowski became their second player ruled out for the season with a knee injury after defender Neven Subotic.
Germany midfielder İlkay Gündoğan is laid low with a virus, having only just recovered from a back problem.
“He has a viral infection, everyone knows how long it takes to get over something like that,” said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp, who labelled his side ‘hunters’ in the quest for second place behind Bayern.
“He is nearly ready to come back, but it will take time.” Fourth-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach, who is level on points with Dortmund, are at Hanover 96 on Feb. 1. Gladbach lost third spot as a consequence of their 2-0 defeat to Bayern last week and coach Lucien Favre has said they must learn from their mistakes.
“Hanover have only lost one game at home this season and it’ll be as hard to win there as it is against Bayern,” said Favre.