Matchday 27’s title-clinching win over Hertha Berlin was the last time Pep Guardiola’s team tasted victory in the league, and despite seeing his charges reach the UEFA Champions League semi-final and the DFB Cup final in the last ten days, the Spaniard is determined to go into Wednesday’s first-leg clash with Spanish giants Real Madrid CF on the back of a morale-boosting result at the Eintracht-Stadion.
‘It's going to be difficult’
“We’re going to have to play very well to get something from the game,” admitted the former FC Barcelona coach. “They have more to play for than us, but we have to focus on playing our own game. To play well against Real Madrid, we have to get a good result against Braunschweig.”
Manuel Neuer will miss the trip to Lower Saxony, despite returning to light training following a calf injury sustained in the 3-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund last weekend. “He’s improving every day,” said the Catalan coach. “But he’s not going to travel with us to Braunschweig. I hope he’ll be fit for Madrid.”
Raeder set for Bundesliga debut
After making his first-team debut against Dortmund, when he came on at half time, and keeping goal in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the DFB Cup, 20-year-old keeper Lukas Raeder is now set to make his full Bundesliga debut. Neuer isn’t Bayern’s only absentee, however, with both right-back Rafinha and midfielder Toni Kroos suspended and left-back David Alaba ruled out through illness.
Braunschweig, meanwhile, will be without top scorer Domi Kumbela for Saturday’s game after the Congolese striker suffered a groin injury in the Lions’ 2-0 defeat to fellow strugglers SC Freiburg. Dennis Krupke, Orhan Ademi and Karim Bellarabi are in contention to replace the striker, who has found the net on nine occasions this season.
‘Best team in the world’
Last week’s defeat to SC Freiburg notwithstanding, Braunschweig have been in impressive form of late. The cellar dwellers are now just three points off 15th-placed VfB Stuttgart with four games remaining, and Swiss forward Ademi is urging his team-mates to pick up where they left off in their last home game - a 3-0 victory over local rivals Hannover 96.
“They have world class players,“ said the 22-year-old, “but we just have to try and produce the sort of performance we put in against Hannover.” Coach Torsten Lieberknecht was also waxing lyrical about the quality at Guardiola’s disposal. “I’d go and get them on my bike if any of them were interested in playing for us,” he said. “They’re the best in the world at the moment and it’s hard to find a weakness. Our defensive performance will have a major bearing on the outcome of the game.”
Braunschweig: Davari - Kessel, Correia, Dogan, Reichel - Elabdellaoui, Theuerkauf, Boland - Kruppke, Hochscheidt - Nielsen
Bayern: Raeder - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Sallahi - Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Robben, Müller, Ribery - Mandzukic