Champions League: Bayern Munich vs Manchester City – Preview
Bayern Munich are struggling with fitness and injury problems ahead of their Champions League group opener against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Munich: Bayern Munich are struggling with fitness and injury problems ahead of their Champions League group opener against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Dutchman Arjen Robben is doubtful after missing training on Sunday with a knee problem and fellow winger Franck Ribery made his season debut on Saturday, coming on as a substitute and scoring in the 2-0 win over VfB Stuttgart.
Coach Pep Guardiola, however, will need to reshuffle his defence with Holger Badstuber tearing a thigh muscle tendon during the game and set to undergo surgery.
The 25-year-old, who had only recently won back his starting spot after a 20-month absence following consecutive cruciate ligament tears, will be out for months.
With the addition of Xabi Alonso, however, Guardiola has one player who has seamlessly integrated into the Bayern game.
"With Xabi we had a lot of possession against Stuttgart," Guardiola said of the former Real Madrid midfielder.
"He knows his job in this position. He has an eye for short and long passes but we have to help him because if he does everything then he will be dead."
Bayern, who won the Champions League in 2013, have yet to hit top form this season, with many players tired after the World Cup and others, including Thiago Alcantara, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Rafinha, out injured.
Their attacking game was far too static for Guardiola`s taste ahead of the game against City who beat them at home in the same stage last season to end Bayern`s record 10-game winning streak.
"We know we have to improve further against Manchester City," captain Philipp Lahm said.
"They are a top team, they are English champions and we want to start the competition well. We are still missing a bit of rhythm."
City have also not had an explosive start to their season with seven out of 12 possible points and Martin Demichelis`s late header rescued a 2-2 draw against Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.
Coach Manuel Pellegrini will not be on the bench at the Allianz Arena as he serves out a touchline suspension following an outburst at the referee in last season`s defeat by Barcelona.
The Chilean will also have to make do without key defender Pablo Zabaleta who is suspended.
"Bayern are the most strong team but my team has a great personality to try to win everywhere," Pellegrini told reporters.
"We showed that against Arsenal. Last season, we lost three early away games to Cardiff, Aston Villa and Chelsea but we went on to beat Bayern in Munich.
"We have the personality to try to play everywhere in the same way. If we continue like this, it will be a very close game against Bayern."