Bayern to rest stars ahead of Barca

2015-05-01 18:01
Thomas Muller (Supplied)
Thomas Muller (Supplied)

Berlin - Bayern Munich are expected to name a weakened line-up for Saturday's clash at Bayer Leverkusen with the newly-crowned Bundesliga champions pre-occupied by Wednesday's Champions League semi-final at Barcelona.

Pep Guardiola has fresh injury concerns with both his top scorers Robert Lewandowski, who has 23 goals this season, and Arjen Robben, who's scored 19, injured while Leverkusen are unbeaten in their last nine league games.

Lewandowski fractured his cheekbone and suffered concussion in Tuesday's German Cup semi-final defeat to Borussia Dortmund while Robben's season is over after lasting 16 minutes of his comeback before tearing his left calf.

Guardiola was already missing winger Franck Ribery and left-back David Alaba and will rest most of his stars ahead of his first return to Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium since winning 14 titles in four years as coach of the Spanish giants.

Having started 18-year-old midfielder Gianluca Gaudino in last Saturday's 1-0 home win against Hertha Berlin, and given Germany Under-19 international Sinan Kurt his senior debut off the bench, Guardiola is again poised to give youth a chance.

Leverkusen are battling Borussia Moenchengladbach for third place in the Bundesliga, which carries an automatic Champions League place.

Having reached the German Cup final in mid-week after losing their last five semi-final appearances, second-placed Wolfsburg host relegation-threatened Hanover 96 whose coach Michael Frontzeck signed a five-match contract to keep them up and is hunting their first win in 14 games.

Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg's German Cup final opponents in Berlin on May 30, are at Hoffenheim in a key battle for European places with just a point separating the teams.

Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, who is leaving at the end of the season, has described it as a "six-point match" with his team buoyed by Tuesday's cup victory over Bayern on penalties.

Klopp says the Hoffenheim match has 'the air of a semi-final'.

"We have had some exceptional moments, but now we're in Hoffenheim mode," said Klopp.

"It's a six-point game for us, no ifs or buts," added the 47-year-old, who will be without injured Germany midfielder Kevin Grosskreutz for the rest of the season.

"We have to put our all we can into the Hoffenheim match, as if it was our last game, we have play bravely and keep our tactics tight."

Dortmund announced on Thursday that Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will not be extending his Borussia contract which expires in June 2016.

Australia goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak, Dortmund's hero in Munich, could feature again between the posts with Roman Weidenfeller recovering from a pelvis injury.

Werder Bremen welcome Eintracht Frankfurt to the Weserstadion also hunting a top six spot.

Werder head coach Viktor Skripnik used to play under Frankfurt boss Thomas Schaaf during his time as Bremen head coach.

The Eintracht coach is pleased to see his old side climb from bottom of the table in December up to their current ninth place and level on 39 points with Dortmund.

"I'm happy about Werder Bremen's recovery this season, the quality of the team hasn't surprised me at all," said Schaaf.

Read more on:    bayern munich  |  bundesliga  |  soccer

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