Nuremberg - FC Bayern München make the short trip north to a rejuvenated 1. FC Nürnberg on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CET), hoping to extend their current unbeaten Bundesliga run to 45 matches.
'Derbies are always difficult'
Matchday 20's Bavarian derby is unlikely to be a walk in the park for Guardiola's troops, however. In fact, it's a measure of Nürnberg's dramatic turnaround in fortunes that, had the season started in January, these two teams would be sitting pretty at the top of the Bundesliga.
"I've spoken to my players and they've told me how difficult it's been at Nürnberg in recent years," said Guardiola, who is looking forward to his first trip to the Grundig Stadion as Bayern coach. "Derbies are always special," said the 43-year-old. "They're a different kind of challenge, but history proves they're always difficult."
The league leaders certainly didn't have it all their own way in the corresponding fixture at the Allianz Arena back in August, when second-half goals from Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben sealed a hard-fought 2-0 win over the dogged Franconians. "My players don't have to be told it's going to be difficult," added the former FC Barcelona coach. "Nürnberg are very, very aggressive, but I don't think it's going to be a problem for my players."
Guardiola's side are without the services of Ribery for Saturday's match, after the Frenchman underwent a minor operation on his gluteal muscles on Thursday evening. On a more positive note for Bayern, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez could feature after returning to first-team training this week. "It's great news for us that they're back in training," said Guardiola. "We'll see how they do today [in training], then I will decide [whether to include them in the squad]."
Gertjan Verbeek is likely to keep faith with the same starting line-up that secured a 3-1 victory at Hertha Berlin on Matchday 19. Verbeek's team recorded their second victory of the season at the Olympiastadion, courtesy of Markus Feulner's first-half strike and Josip Drmic's brace. Captain Per Nilsson missed the trip to the capital with a knee injury and remains unavailable for the visit of Bayern, with Ondrej Petrak likely to keep his place in central defence. Right-back Timothy Chandler, meanwhile, is set to make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.
'Measure ourselves against the best'
Feulner, whose goal at Hertha was his first of the campaign, feels Nürnberg are capable of pulling off an upset against last season's quadruple winners. "We're looking forward to it," the former Bayern player told fcb.de. "The fans are also really looking forward to this game. Derbies are huge events and we can measure ourselves with the best team in the world, and we want to try to have a good game."
Nürnberg will be hoping a good game delivers a good result and, while Feulner accepts the most likely outcome is a Bayern victory, the 31-year-old is confident the likes of Drmic, Daniel Ginczek and Hiroshi Kiyotake can pose a considerable threat to Bayern's rearguard. "We're very aggressive at home and we work very hard," he said. "I dare not predict the result, but I hope we play well and cause Bayern some real problems."
Nürnberg: Schäfer - Chandler, Petrak, Pinola, Plattenhardt - Frantz - Drmic, Feulner, Kiyotake - Hlousek, Ginczek
Bayern: Neuer - Rafinha, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Lahm - Robben, Kroos, Thiago, Ribery - Müller