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'Even Bayern have rarely been this strong'

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'Even Bayern have rarely been this strong'

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:50 pm

VfB Stuttgart twice played Bayern at home last season, but fell to a 5-3 defeat in the Bundesliga, and were thumped 6-3 in the DFB Cup not long afterwards. Martin Harnik, an Austrian international team-mate of Bayern's David Alaba, appeared for VfB in both matches, scoring a brace in the first game. The 24-year-old, Stuttgart's top scorer in the league with six goals this season, has continued his rapid footballing progress this term. Interviewed exclusively by, he previewed Sunday's eagerly-awaited south German clash and spoke about his own development as a player.

Interview: Martin Harnik Martin, it's the battle for south German supremacy again on Sunday. What's so special about the fixture?
Martin Harnik: The fixture has a long and rich history, and it's very special for our fans. Bayern are one of the biggest clubs in Europe and every team has a point to prove against them, ourselves included.

Bayern travelled to Manchester during the week. A number of stars were unavailable or rested, but could it still be an advantage for you that you had the whole week to prepare for Sunday's game?
Bayern have a large, high quality squad. It's true that a number of regulars were rested, but even if they'd all played, a team like Bayern Munich is experienced enough to cope and produce another top performance just a few days later.

You've only won one of your last six Bundesliga matches. Why are VfB finding it so difficult to get going this term?
We lack consistency to a certain extent, and the authority to wrap up games where we've been in control. We've dropped points unnecessarily, and it's our own fault we're not better positioned in the table. We have to work on our stability, and a positive result against Bayern would certainly help.

Stuttgart lost heavily at home to Bayern in the Bundesliga and cup last season. You probably don't have particularly happy memories of those games, do you?
The bad memories aren't particularly linked to the games, but to the whole situation we were in. But we fought our way out of it, and we're in a very different situation this time. The positive aspect back then was that we twice managed to score three goals. If we can do it again this time, we'll finish as winners.

How can you stop Bayern opening up and scoring as many goals against you this time?
We'll try and make the most of our quality and potential. We're fired up for it as a team, and we have to dig in and resist right from the start.

You scored a brace in last season's league fixture, and you have six goals and four assists so far this season. Is it the best phase of your career to date?
I'm happy with the way I've come on, but I'm hopefully not finished yet. I have to work hard on my tackling and passing, so I hope it can get even better.

Bayern went back to the top of the table last weekend. How would you assess the current Munich team?
Bayern are clear favourites to win the league. In fact, anything else would be a sensation. Even Bayern have rarely been as strong as this.

You go head-to-head with fellow countryman David Alaba on Sunday. How do you two get along? Have you been in touch with him? And will you meet up for a coffee with him afterwards?
We'll have to see if there's a chance to talk before kick-off, because there definitely won't be time for coffee afterwards. David is a young player with huge potential, and going out on loan [to Hoffenheim] helped him take a huge step forward.
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