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Top spot beckons for Van Gaal's men

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Top spot beckons for Van Gaal's men

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:30 pm

Due to the selection of Bayern's meeting with TSG Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena on Friday (Live in English from 8.15 pm on FCB.tv Web Radio) as the Bundesliga's official restart fixture, FCB can go top of the league if they win - albeit only for one night. "But it would be good to be right at the top for a day," Louis van Gaal commented. Bayern have not been top of the domestic league pile for more than 600 days.

"We need to hit the ground running and send out a signal to the league," declared keeper Jörg Butt. Bayern finished the first half of the season in third place, but the ultimate goal this term is clear enough. "We're only two points behind the leaders, and I'd like to emphasise yet again that our aim is to bring the championship shield to Munich. It's important we're fully focused and determined when we get off the blocks," stated chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Bayern are keen to reel in leaders Bayer Leverkusen as fast as possible. "We have to win," Van Gaal demanded. In fact, the head coach would like his men to win well into the bargain: "We can confirm the form we showed at the end of last year. That would be important psychologically. We could spread some fear among our rivals."

Bayern are undefeated in ten Bundesliga fixtures, and stormed to victory in their last six competitive fixtures. Mid-season training went well, so the going-in position for the remainder of the campaign looks promising. "I'm 100 percent convinced we have what it takes for great success," said director of sport Christian Nerlinger. "We're going to go for it. And if we play to 100 percent of our potential in every match, no-one can stop us," added Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Fierce rivalry

Hoffenheim were top of the league at this stage last term and currently lie seventh. Van Gaal's men know they will have to get stuck in from the start if they are to take maximum points. "There's no time for us to play ourselves into a rhythm. We have to play well immediately and take the points," said Ivica Olic. "We're fired up and we want to win - whatever it takes," confirmed Schweinsteiger.

Bayern face Hoffenheim for only the fourth time in the Bundesliga, and the previous three meetings were all enthralling in one way or another. "They've always been fiercely contested," Schweinsteiger recalled. The meeting in Munich 13 months ago, also played on a Friday, was the most memorable. After 90 absorbing and high-quality minutes, Luca Toni struck a stoppage-time winner for the home side. Both games in Hoffenheim ended in hard-fought draws.

Respect for Hoffenheim

Van Gaal made no secret of his respect for the team coached by Ralf Rangnick. "They have good players, very good players. Some of them could rightly turn out for Bayern Munich." However, last year's surprise package have a few selection problems this time round. Luiz Gustavo is suspended, while Isaac Vorsah and Chinedu Obasi are away at the Africa Cup of Nations. Schemer Carlos Eduardo is rated doubtful (knee).

By contrast, Van Gaal will send out a near full-strength line-up. Arjen Robben has passed a fitness test, the coach reported, and appears certain to start. The only definite absentee from the reshuffled squad is Franck Ribéry, who is not yet match fit. "We're in good shape and confident in our abilities," said Schweinsteiger, "but we have to go out and show what we can do."
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