Augsburg - FC Bayern Munich can put further breathing space between themselves and the chasing pack when they make the short trip north to face struggling neighbours FC Augsburg on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CET).
Jupp Heynckes' side can do no wrong at present, with the Bavarian giants currently eight points clear of second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen and a further three clear of champions Borussia Dortmund in the pre-Christmas standings.
"The most important thing is that we win on Saturday," said Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer, after seeing Thomas Müller and Co. cruise into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League as group winners with victory over BATE Borisov on Wednesday night. "Then it's about beating Gladbach and then winning in the cup. That's what we need to do," he added.
Coach Heynckes yet again played his cards right on Wednesday, with the likes of Phillipp Lahm, David Alaba, Franck Ribery and Dante all starting on the bench in what was, defender Jerome Boateng's sending off notwithstanding, yet another walk in the park for Bayern's star-studded ensemble.
"The strikers have put in good performances so far. Whether it's been Mario Mandzukic, Claudio Pizarro or Mario Gomez - they've all showed what they can do,” said Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri. A whopping 41 goals in 15 Bundesliga outings says all you need to know about the strength in depth in the Bayern camp with, surprisingly enough, only one of those half century-pushing strikes attributed to a certain Gomez.
Still, the 27-year-old needed just 27 seconds to find the back of the net against Hannover 96 on Matchday 13, following a three-and-a-half-month spell on the sidelines. He might not be a shoe-in for a place in the starting eleven, given the form of leading scorer Mario Mandzukic (nine), but moving in such goal-hungry circles is only going to benefit his and Bayern's game, whilst leaving the rest of the Bundesliga quaking in their boots.
Augsburg, for one, know all too well about the attributes of Bayern's No.33, who struck either side of an equalising goal from VfL Wolfsburg loanee Ja-Cheol Koo to ensure a Bavarian derby double over the region's lesser-known outfit at the Allianz Arena last April, after two fiercely-fought encounters.
"We have to be brave and not just hope that Bayern go easy on us," said Koo of Saturday's clash. Augsburg may sit joint-bottom of the table with just eight points from the first 15 games of the season, but with Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Gomez in the Bayern ranks, taking it easy is something the Bundesliga leaders simply don't know how to do.
FC Augsburg: Amsif - Vogt, Sankoh, Klavan, de Jong - Callsen-Bracker, Baier - Petrzela, Koo, Werner - Mölders
FC Bayern Munich: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger - T. Müller, Kroos, Ribery - Mandzukic (Gomez)
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