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Eight Bayern stars aiming for South Africa

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Eight Bayern stars aiming for South Africa

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:45 pm

Just ten minutes after the final whistle in Saturday's Bundesliga encounter with Karlsruhe, Bayern stalwart Lucio had already showered, changed, leapt into his car and raced away from the Allianz Arena, with Martin Demichelis hot on his heels. The centre-backs were both headed for the airport, from where they flew to South America that very same Saturday evening.

Both will spend the next ten or so days with their national teams in the hunt for vital 2010 World Cup qualifying points. Lucio and five-time world champions Brazil meet Ecuador in Quito next Sunday, before the Selecao entertain Peru in Porto Alegre three days later.

Home tie for Demichelis

Argentina's home fixture next Saturday, a meeting with Venezuela in Buenos Aires, has special meaning for Martin Demichelis. The venue is the Estadio Monumental, home to Demichelis' boyhood club River Plate. Three days later, the Albiceleste face a tricky challenge with a trip to Bolivia and the uncomfortable prospect of playing at 3,600 metres above sea level in La Paz, seat of the Bolivian government.

In the league-system South American qualifying competition, Brazil (17 points) and Argentina (16) lie second and third, trailing leaders Paraguay (23). The top four teams qualify directly for the global showdown in South Africa next year, with the team in fifth playing off against the fourth-placed finishers in North and Central America and the Caribbean for a further berth at the finals.

Test for leaders

In Europe, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski aim to help Germany retain top spot in qualifying Group 4. Germany, on ten points, meet minnows Liechtenstein (1) in Leipzig on Saturday, before travelling to Cardiff for a clash with third-placed Wales (6) four days later. "We have to win both matches," Podolski declared.

Mark van Bommel and his Netherlands team-mates could take a giant stride towards South Africa in this round of qualifiers. The men in Orange comfortably lead Group 9 with maximum points from three games, and now meet pursuers Scotland (4) in Amsterdam. Victory on Saturday, and another three points on the same ground against Macedonia (3) in midweek would virtually guarantee the Dutch a place at the finals with three games still to play.

Double-headers for Ribéry and Van Buyten

Franck Ribéry and 2006 World Cup runners-up France are in a much more precarious position. Les Bleues have taken four points from three fixtures to date and lie third in Group 7 behind Serbia and Lithuania (both 9), although the French have a game in hand. But all is not lost, as Ribery and his team-mates can make inroads into the Lithuanians' lead in Kaunas on Saturday, before potentially overtaking the men from the Baltic when the sides meet again in Paris on Wednesday.

Daniel van Buyten and Belgium also have a double header in Group 5. The Red Devils, still in contention on seven points behind European champions Spain (12) and Turkey (8), meet Bosnia Herzegovina (6) twice in the space of four days. Saturday's encounter takes place in Genk, before the return in Zenica four days later.

Bayern's quota of players on international duty this week would normally be even higher, but Luca Toni (Italy), Miroslav Klose (Germany) and Hamit Altintop (Turkey) are all sidelined with injury.
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