Munich - FC Bayern Munich are out to mark Jupp Heynckes' 1000th Bundesliga match as player and coach with a win in Saturday's north-south classic against SV Werder Bremen (kick-off: 15:30 CET).
Following the hosts' impressive 3-1 win at Arsenal FC in their UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg encounter, and with an eye on Wednesdays DFB Cup tie against Borussia Dortmund, the veteran tactician is expected to rotate his first eleven.
Heynckes, who will become only the second member of the exclusive 1000 club after Otto Rehhagel, indicated that Dutch international Arjen Robben will be given the chance shine from the off. "Arjen has shown that he's unbelievably ambitious and is in great shape," said the 67-year-old. Holding midfielder Luiz Gustavo and forward Mario Gomez are other strong candidates for a starting berth.
Nevertheless, former Bremen frontman Claudio Pizarro, largely a substitute this season, still harbours hopes of appearing against the side for whom he bagged 89 goals in six years. "It's a special game for me," said the Peruvian. "He’s [Heynckes] not yet said who will play."
Despite Bayern's domestic 13-game unbeaten run and Bremen currently only sitting in mid-table, Heynckes stressed there is no chance of his side taking their visitors lightly. "Bremen have had an up-and-down season but they're a team one has to be wary of. They have huge potential."
Yet at the moment there is little that appears to be able to shake Bayern's in-built self-belief and Pizarro is confident they can collect a sixth successive league victory. "I expect a tricky match, but we're at home and on a good run. I think we'll win."
Such has been the Bavarians' form in that streak that Bremen's long-serving coach Thomas Schaaf has been left scratching his head: "I observed them in London against Arsenal and couldn't discover any weaknesses," the 51-year-old admitted, pointing out that "it's impressive how they have played this season - dominant, convincing, confident, consistent."
Schaaf has urged his team to play tighter against Bayern than in September's 2-0 home defeat against the Reds: "If we can limit the space for Bayern, then we certainly have a better chance. We have to play to our own strengths," concluded Schaaf, who will be able to rely on the services of midfielder Aaron Hunt again, although cpatain Clemens Fritz, defender Sokratis and long-term absentee Philipp Bargfrede will be out for Saturday's encounter.
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, van Buyten, Dante, Alaba - Schweinsteiger, Luiz Gustavo - Robben, Kroos, Ribery - Gomez
Bremen: Mielitz - Ignjovski, Lukimya, Prödl, Schmitz - Junuzovic - Arnautovic, Hunt, de Bruyne, Ekici - Petersen