A few days ago FC Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called the top Bundesliga clash against Bayer Leverkusen "the most important match this week," and the conditions are ideal: Bayern will take on the Rhineland outfit on their floodlit home field in front of a capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena.
After the two defeats against major competitors Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and FC Rostov in the Champions League, FC Bayern entertain Roger Schmidt's troops on Saturday (Live in English from 18.30 CET in our Live Ticker and FCBayern.tv Web Radio
). Spurred on by more than 70,000 fans at the Allianz Arena, the Bavarians aim to make up for the last few displays.
Philipp Lahm is looking forward to the encounter on Bundesliga Matchday 12. "What do I expect? A top clash because Leverkusen are in the Champions League." He and his team have a duty, according to the skipper: "It's important to learn from our mistakes quickly and turn in a better performance on Saturday." In other words, Lahm and Co are determined to recover their customary precision and dominance.
The Bavarians aim to make history repeat itself with this attitude. The last time FCB lost top spot, on Matchday 2 of the 2015/16 Bundesliga campaign, the Munich men won 3-0 at home in the following match - against Leverkusen, and on a Saturday evening.
"We have to show a reaction, and against Leverkusen we have a great opportunity to bounce back. I'm confident and fully trust my team," commented coach Carlo Ancelotti, who called Leverkusen's play "aggressive when not in possession," with "very high intensity."
The Italian has more players at his disposal again, as Arjen Robben, Javi Martínez, Manuel Neuer and Arturo Vidal all return from injury. However, there is a question-mark over Jérôme Boateng: "Jérôme had to break off the training session early because he didn't feel good. We didn't want to take any risks and will decide on Saturday whether he'll play," the coach reported. Ancelotti is definitely without long-term absentee Kingsley Coman.
The visitors are lacking injured trio Karim Bellarabi, Lars Bender and Joel Pohjanpalo, but Bayer will be confident as they booked a berth in the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday. "The early qualification gives us momentum we'll gladly take along," commented Roger Schmidt. However, he has great respect for the German record champions: "When we play against Bayern we take on the spine of the Germany national team. We mustn't overstate the two defeats. Bayern have plenty of experience, like hardly any other team in the league or in Europe."