Bay­ern in fight to keep chas­ing pack at bay

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

BAY­ERN Mu­nich are out to re­assert their au­thor­ity in the Bun­desliga at Stuttgart to­mor­row, with three ri­vals poised to knock them off top spot if they fal­ter.

Af­ter ham­mer­ing Werder Bre­men 4-1 last week­end, Bay­ern are top by a point and need to win at mid-ta­ble Stuttgart to keep their ri­vals at bay with two week­ends left be­fore the win­ter break starts.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Borus­sia Dort­mund are at home to strug­glers Kais­er­slautern to­mor­row, while third­placed Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach are at bot­tom side Augs­burg to­day.

Both Bay­ern’s main ri­vals should pick up the points to keep the pres­sure on, while fourth- placed Schalke, three points off the pace, faced Hertha Ber­lin last night.

“It’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant we get back to win­ning again im­me­di­ately,” urged Mu­nich’s Thomas Mueller ahead of the trip to Stuttgart, hav­ing sat out Bay­ern’s Cham­pi­ons League de­feat at Manch­ester City on Wed­nes­day with ill­ness.

Mueller and striker Mario Gomez, the league’s top scorer, are both strug­gling with flu, while Dutch winger Ar­jen Robben and Ger­many mid­fielder Toni Kroos missed the 20 de­feat in Manch­ester for the same rea­son. Coach Jupp Heynckes is wait­ing on the fit­ness of the quar­tet to de­cide who will face a Stuttgart team who are in er­ratic form.

Dutch de­fender Khalid Boulahrouz has been ruled out for the home side af­ter tear­ing a hip ten­don.

“There is no right time for an in­jury, but just be­fore the win­ter break is par­tic­u­larly an­noy­ing,” said the 29-year-old on Stuttgart’s web­site.

Bun­desliga dark- horses Glad­bach will be with­out in­jured winger Marco Reus at Augs­burg as he con­tin­ues his re­cov­ery from a bro­ken toe. The 22-year-old has scored 10 goals in 14 matches, but broke the lit­tle toe on his left foot a fort­night ago and is still not able to run with­out pain, forc­ing him to miss last Satur­day’s 1-1 draw with Dort­mund.

Augs­burg are bot­tom of the ta­ble with 11 points from 15 games, while Glad­bach are the sur­prise pack­age of the Bun­desliga this sea­son, hav­ing be­come ti­tle con­tenders de­spite only nar­rowly avoid­ing rel­e­ga­tion in May.

Dort­mund will be with­out cap­tain Se­bas­tian Kehl at Kais­er­slautern af­ter he took a heavy kick in the face dur­ing Tues­day’s 3- 2 Cham­pi­ons League de­feat at home to Mar­seille, which left him in hos­pi­tal. Although the de­fen­sive mid­fielder did not break any bones, he ad­mit­ted his bruised face made it look like he had “been in a fight against both of the (world cham­pion) Kl­itschko broth­ers at the same time”. – SAPA-AFP

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