Berlin - Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich head to Bayer
Leverkusen on Saturday looking for three points to steady the ship again after
a turbulent week.
Bayern head to the Rhineland in rude health with an
eight-point lead in the table, but there have been plenty of tensions off the
field in the last five days.
On Monday, football's worst kept secret was confirmed when
coach Pep Guardiola announced he will take charge at Manchester City next
season in a three-year deal reported to be worth more than 15 million ($21.5
million, 20 million euros) per year.
Despite chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commenting last
Sunday that "there is no quality on the market", Bayern signed
Germany international Serdar Tasci on Monday in a loan deal to cover their
dearth of central defenders.
With Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Medhi Benatia all
sidelined, Holger Badstuber is their only fully fit centre-back.
Unfortunately, Tasci then suffered a concussion in his first
training session on Wednesday -- 48 hours after signing until June from Spartak
Moscow -- and will sit out the Leverkusen match.
Then magazine Sport Bild alleged midfielder Arturo Vidal was
repeatedly drunk during Bayern's January training camp in Qatar and both the
club and player have said they will take legal action.
Bayern's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer says the squad has blanked
out the off-field turmoil and are focused solely on Leverkusen.
Also read: Bayern, Dortmund out to maintain relentless Bundesliga pace
"The things which they try to stick on the team don't
affect us. I can only repeat that we stick together," said Neuer.
Bayern has only won six of the last 13 games against
Leverkusen, a poor return by their lofty standards, and Bayer beat the
Bavarians 2-0 last May when last year's league title was already won.
- 'Chicharito on fire' -
Leverkusen are unbeaten in their last six games, dating back
to the start of December, and their ex-Manchester United striker Javier
'Chicharito' Hernandez is knocking in goals for fun.
'Chicharito' has hit 13 goals in 16 league appearances while
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski has scored 19 goals in 19.
The Mexican striker has played in every league game since
his arrival last August, and his second-half double in last Saturday's 3-0 win
over Hanover 96 left Leverkusen fourth in the table.
"Chicharito was really on fire in the last few minutes
and that's why you must never take a player like him off," admitted
Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt after Hernandez has forged a strong partership
alongside Germany striker Stefan Kiessling.
"He's always capable of deciding a game on his
Second plays third in the capital when Borussia Dortmund
visit Hertha Berlin.
Third-placed Hertha are unbeaten in their last six games in
all competitions and have lost just one of their last nine after their 2-0 loss
at Bayern's Allianz Arena in November.
Dortmund have won both of their games in 2016 and are ten
points clear of Berlin.
Pal Dardai's Hertha will need to try and stop Dortmund's
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The hot-shot striker has scored 20 goals in 19 games, two
ahead of Bayern legend Gerd Mueller at the same stage of the season when he
scored the record of 40 goals in the 1971/72 campaign season.
"If I am honest, we only have a small chance of
winning," said Dardai, with a sell-out crowd of 74,500 expected in Berlin.
"But we'll be playing for the win, and if so many of
our fans come, we'll want to go out to attack and not play with five at the
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