Holger Badstuber is set to make his long-awaited return to the FC Bayern München starting XI with the objective of securing top spot in their UEFA Champions League group when they host Olympiacos on Tuesday (kick-off 20:45CET/19:45GMT).
The 26-year-old got half an hour under his belt prior to the international break, but with David Alaba doubtful due to an ankle injury, the German international defender is in line to start for the first time since 15 April with Pep Guardiola expected to rotate his squad once again.
"I was able to use the international break to improve my fitness level even further and now I'm ready," Badstuber said in Munich on Tuesday. "It's up to the coach to decide if I play or not." If Guardiola nods his head, it will be a boost to Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who is looking forward to having extra protection in front of him with Badstuber back.
"We're all delighted that he's back again after such a long time out, and that he belongs to the team again," Neuer said. "He's a fantastic footballer and everybody here at the Säbener Straße loves him. We all know that we need Holger and his qualities."
With Badstuber back in tow, Guardiola is able to make amendments to his starting XI for the 65th game in a row. His rotation policy is delivering optimal results and both Badstuber and Neuer (l.) agreed that it is the right approach to be successful on so many fronts, with Bayern leading the way in the Bundesliga and facing a DFB Cup quarter-final tie before the winter break.
"Everybody wants to play and we've got a good blend," said Badstuber. "It's important that we have such depth in our squad, and that those who play are the fittest. It's going to be interesting next year in the knockout stages of the Champions League, when the games will be tighter."
That is not to say Tuesday night's tie is not going to be a keenly-contested affair. "We know how strong Olympiacos are away from home," said Neuer. "They've won five-in-a-row in the league and both at Arsenal and Zagreb in the Champions League, but we want to win and finish top of our group."
The two teams are locked together at the summit of Group F with nine points each, with Bayern able to seal top spot with a win. A draw would enable both to plan for the Last 16 with a game to spare, but such calculations do not come into the equation. "We will do all we can to win, not to do favours to anybody else, but because we want to win," said Neuer.