Babbel tells players not to be afraid

Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel, seeking to cling to his job, urged his players not to be afraid of Bayern Munich when the two sides meet Saturday in the Bundesliga.

“Not being afraid is the key to victory,” Babbel said Friday. “One must not be afraid. If you are afraid, they will dismantle you. It would be fatal to come out with fear.”

Stuttgart has lost five of the last six in the Bundesliga and Babbel has barely kept his job this week after Stuttgart lost to second-division Greuther Fuerth in the German Cup.

Babbel, who played for Bayern and Liverpool before ending his career in Stuttgart, also appealed to local media to use such battle-cry headlines as “Beat the Bayern,” to give his team an extra motivational push.

“Three would be very, very important in this situation. It would be a bit calmer after that. We need results, we need points,” said Babbel, who took Stuttgart from the bottom half of the standings last season to a third-place finish and a berth in the Champions League.

This season, Stuttgart has fallen 14th.

Meanwhile, former Stuttgart standout Mario Gomez, who is now only a substitute at Bayern, said he expected a “mixed reaction” for his homecoming, and “maybe a few whistles.”

Gomez scored 24 goals in the Bundesliga last season for Stuttgart but has not featured in Bayern’s starting lineup in five weeks.

“We miss Mario, no question,” Babbel said. “Here he was the star. There he is only one of many.”

Gomez said he would not turn out to be a flop in Bayern.

“I did not come to Bayern to sit on the bench,” Gomez said. “But I can’t lie to myself and I am not pleased (with my performance) either.”