Hiroshi Kiyotake will be orchestrating matters for visitors Nuremberg in midfield
Hiroshi Kiyotake will be orchestrating matters for visitors Nuremberg in midfield

Bayern braced for Bavarian derby

Munich - As freshly-crowned Bundesliga champions and with a UEFA Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona on the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking FC Bayern Munich might take their foot off the gas when Bavarian neighbours 1. FC Nuremberg come to town on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 15:30 CET).

Changes afoot

Yet anyone familiar with the Reds' rampant surge for silverware this term will know there is little chance a side so intent on winning will slip up just as the trophies are being dusted down in time for the awards season.

"We'll be playing in front of a full house and the fans will be expecting us to perform," said coach Jupp Heynckes, who also insisted that his side "will prepare for the game as if we still really needed the points. We can't let up, we have to maintain our rhythm."

Nevertheless, the 67-year-old tactician has already confirmed at least one change to what could be a heavily rotated starting XI. Mario Mandzukic is set to be given a rest after his goalscoring exploits in die Münchner's 2-0 victory away to Juventus last Wednesday, paving the way for Mario Gomez to make his mark up front. And with Toni Kroos, Holger Badstuber (both injured) and Luiz Gustavo (suspended) all out of contention, Xherdan Shaqiri is also likely to be handed a start in attacking midfield.

Neuer: "We still want to win"

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who conceded one of the 13 goals Bayern have let in this season away to Nuremberg on Matchday 12, is adamant the hosts will put in a strong performance. "It was clear at the end of February and at the beginning of March that we'd win the league," the 27-year-old told Nuremberg's website, "but in the last few weeks we've shown that we're not just sitting back. We still want to win every game."

As confident as the Germany No1 is in his side's ability, Nuremberg's sprint up the standings has not gone unnoticed at the Allianz Arena. "They're coming to Munich with the wind in their sails thanks to their good results in the second half of the season," Neuer continued. "They won't just lie down against us. We all know what sort of game it is - nobody wants to lose a derby."

Confident guests

Such has been Nuremberg's form since the turn of the year that only three teams have collected more points than Michael Wiesinger's men in 2013. Japan international Hiroshi Kiyotake has received the bulk of the plaudits for his dazzling displays in attacking midfield and he will once again be the man charged with unlocking the Bayern defence on Saturday.

"We're going up against the best side in Germany, probably the best side in Europe right now," said Wiesinger, a former Bayern player himself, of Saturday's hosts. "It's a great platform for us to test ourselves against a team like that. It's a challenge, but we also know that our game can cause any opponent problems."

Possible line-ups:

Bayern: Neuer - Rafinha, Boateng, van Buyten, Alaba - Tymoshchuk, Martinez - Robben, Shaqiri, Ribery - Gomez

Nuremberg: Schäfer - Balitsch, Nilsson, Klose, Pinola - Chandler, Feulner, Simons, Esswein - Kiyotake - Pekhart

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