Bayern coach feeling pressure as Hoffenheim visits

BY foxsports • February 10, 2011

Coach Louis van Gaal is coming under increasing scrutiny from his Bayern Munich bosses ahead of Saturday's visit of Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.

Defeat at relegation-threatened Cologne, where Bayern threw away a 2-0 halftime lead to lose 3-2, left Bayern in fifth place, 15 points behind runaway leader Borussia Dortmund.

"It is more than annoying; it is careless," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "They must be slowly laughing themselves to death in Dortmund."

Van Gaal's decision making has been called into question after he allowed his captain, Marc van Bommel, to leave for AC Milan on a free transfer. He has also been playing Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Mueller out of position, with midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk laboring in defense.

"The problem is within, not with our opponents," Van Gaal said. "It's our own fault."

Bayern's inconsistent form betrays an unhealthy dependance on Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, both missing for much of the season through injury.

Neither winger started in the loss to Cologne, although Ribery came on as a substitute after recovering from a knee injury.

Robben has recovered from a cold and both players are available for Saturday's game, but Van Gaal hasn't decided whether to start them. Of 52 Bundesliga games since Robben joined the club in 2009, they have started only eight together.

Hoffenheim is seventh, and coming off the back of two successive wins under coach Marco Pezzaiuoli.

Former Hoffenheim midfielder Luiz Gustavo is likely to start against his former team. It was his transfer to Bayern which prompted the departure of Ralf Rangnick, to be replaced by his assistant Pezzaiuoli.

On loan Munich player David Alaba should start for Hoffenheim.

Bayern has the best home record in the Bundesliga, with seven wins and one defeat from 10 games, and will be looking to topscorer Mario Gomez to add to his tally of 16 goals. The striker is fit after recovering from the knee injury which kept him out of Germany's 1-1 draw with Italy on Wednesday.

Following Wolfsburg's sacking of Steve McClaren on Monday, new coach Pierre Littbarski's first game in charge of the 2009 champions is at home to eighth place Hamburger SV.

The 50-year-old's first act was to suspend Diego for the game, after the Brazilian refused to follow McClaren's penalty kick instructions at Hannover last weekend.

Littbarski takes charge until the end of the season, when general manager Dieter Hoeness hopes Rangnick will take over the side currently 12th, one point above the relegation zone.

Also on Saturday, 11th place Schalke hosts Freiburg in sixth; second from bottom Stuttgart hosts ninth place Nuremberg; and Eintracht Frankfurt hosts second place Bayer Leverkusen.

Bottom side Borussia Moenchengladbach travels to St. Pauli for a relegation battle without defender Dante, suspended for a red card in last week's defeat to Stuttgart.

In Saturday's late game, Dortmund travels to Kaiserslautern hoping to make it 11 away wins from 12 games.

On Sunday, third place Mainz travels to Cologne and 13th place Werder Bremen hosts fourth place Hannover.


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