'Augsburg won't run up the white flag'
FCB head coach Pep Guardiola awarded his men the day off on Friday to draw breath and recover. Holger Badstuber for instance relaxed outdoors. Only Mario Götze, Franck Ribéry and Mehdi Benatia reported to headquarters – where they were joined by Guardiola himself, who was fully focused on Sunday's match away to FC Augsburg (Live in English from 17.30 CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio).
“I'll prepare my players as well as possible,” the FCB head coach announced. To do so, he will examine the Swabians' most recent displays as well as their last duel with the German record champions. But Guardiola does not attach much significance to the narrow 2-1 victory in September as Bayern face “a whole new match” on Sunday.
The Catalan is aware of his opponents' strengths: “The quality of the players and the coach, the pitch, the atmosphere.” It has “always been difficult” against the Europa League participants who will play “aggressively” on Sunday, according to Guardiola. Captain Philipp Lahm agreed: “Augsburg have always been unpleasant opponents for us. They're hard-running and very disciplined in defence.”
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Thomas Müller’s views are broadly similar: “I don't expect Augsburg to run up the white flag at home,” the Germany international declared, “I can think of more pleasant tasks than a match away to Augsburg in February, so we’ll really have to fight in order to win.”
It remains to be seen whether Bayern will travel to Augsburg with a full 18-man squad after the cup encounter with Bochum, where only 17 pros were available for selection. Mario Götze, Franck Ribéry and Serdar Tasci have resumed the squad programme and a decision whether any of the trio might feature on Sunday will be made after the previous day’s final pre-match workout. Guardiola is definitely without Xabi Alonso, who serves a one-match ban after two bookable offences against Leverkusen.
According to FCA coach Markus Weinzierl the going-in position is clear. “Bayern are always favourites because they're one of the best teams in the world, so it's going to be very difficult for us,” the 41-year-old explained. Key player Daniel Baier misses out with a hairline fracture of the ankle, but Weinzierl defiantly added: “We'll prepare well, accept our role as underdogs, and try to take the small chance we have of beating Bayern Munich.”
Pre-match news from Augsburg:
- Unavailable: Daniel Baier (broken ankle), Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker (broken shin, ankle injury)
- Doubtful: Alexander Manninger (bronchitis), Dong-Won Ji (knee)
- Coach Markus Weinzierl: “We’ve beaten Bayern once a season in the last two years, but we’re also aware we happened to be playing them at very favourable times. Bayern will want to win on Sunday and they'll definitely be very motivated. We’ll need a really good day and the support of our home crowd.”