Bayern to face Nuremberg in league
Bayern Munich will be out to prove that the Champions League is not
a distraction to its domestic campaign when it travels to Bavarian
neighbor Nuremberg in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Bayern is riding a 13-game winning streak - nine of those victories in the Bundesliga - and is only behind undefeated leader Bayer Leverkusen on goal difference.
Leverkusen's coach Jupp Heynckes has said that his team might have an advantage because it can focus exclusively on the Bundesliga while Bayern is still involved in three competitions - the Bundesliga, the Champions League and the German Cup.
Heynckes suggested that Bayern may neglect the Bundesliga once the Champions League resumes.
Bayern's first-leg match in the Round of 16 against Fiorentina ended in a fortunate 2-1 victory Wednesday, a game decided by an offside goal from Miroslav Klose against a team reduced to 10 men.
Louis van Gaal's side will now have to turn its attention to the league as it prepares to face its traditional Bavarian rival.
Nuremberg is next to last after losing eight of its last nine games and desperately needs points to avoid relegation.
But it has won only once in its last six games against Bayern, which will be without central defender Daniel van Buyten, out with a calf injury.
Bayern will also face two of its players on-loan at Nuremberg in central defender Breno and defensive midfielder Andreas Ottl.
"Bayern is a world-class team but on the field it's 11 against 11 and we can win," Breno said.
With van Buyten's absence, Bayern's sometimes wobbly defense could be tested by Nuremberg's striker Albert Bunjaku, who has scored 11 times this season.
"It's important that we go into the match with self-confidence and that we believe in our chance," Bunjaku said.
Nuremberg goalkeeper Raphael Schaefer called Saturday's game the "match of the season."
Nuremberg's biggest task will be to contain wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, who has scored eight times in the Bundesliga.
"It's hard to shut them down on the flanks, we'll have to close our ranks in the midfield and be very alert in the defense," Ottl said.
Leverkusen and Bayern are both on 48 points. Leverkusen plays Sunday at home against Werder Bremen, which has won its last two matches after losing five straight.
Leverkusen will be without suspended Sami Hyypia, the top-rated defender in the league.
Schalke, which is third on 45 points, also plays Sunday, at struggling champion Wolfsburg. The match marks the return of Felix Magath to his old club, which he led to its first Bundesliga title and then quit to join Schalke.
Hoffenheim opens the 23rd round Friday against Borussia Moenchengladbach. On Saturday, Cologne hosts Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund plays Hannover, fourth-place Hamburg meets Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz is at home to Bochum and bottom-place Hertha Berlin travels to Freiburg.