Christmas looms, but Bayern vow “no more gifts” in title race
The festive season is looming, but Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich insists the defending champions must not give away any more points in the Bundesliga title race.
Back-to-back defeats at home to Leverkusen and last Saturday at leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach leave Bayern seventh in the German league table.
“We have nothing more to give away,” insisted Kimmich after Bayern won their first match in their last three with a 3-1 victory over Tottenham on Wednesday. That made them the first German club to win all six group games in a Champions League season.
Bayern trail Gladbach by seven points ahead of Saturday’s home match against Werder Bremen.
However, at exactly the same stage of last season, they were nine points behind Dortmund but gradually eroded the gap to win a seventh straight league title by two points in May.
After squandering numerous chances in their recent league defeats, interim coach Hansi Flick said the win over Jose Mourinho’s Spurs was a “sign that we could turn our chances into a win”.
There was good news on Thursday when examination showed the knee injury Kingsley Coman picked up against Spurs was not as bad as expected. Even so, Bayern has not said how long the French winger will be sidelined for.
Bremen are struggling in 14th place after picking up just 14 points in as many games.
Werder has lost their last 20 games against Bayern and their last win at the Allianz Arena was back in September 2008.
Nevertheless, head coach Florian Kohfeldt, 37, says Bremen are determined to take points to stave off relegation woes and are fired up to poach a rare win in Munich.
“We want to be angry. We have to be angry,” he said in regards to their low ranking in the table.
“You can either bury your head and hope things improve or you get really angry and convert it into energy.”
Bayern rested Robert Lewandowski against Spurs and, as the star Poland striker failed to score in their recent league defeats, he will be eager to add to his 27 goals in 22 games in all competitions this season.
Leaders Gladbach are at Wolfsburg on Sunday with two of their summer singings already repaying the club.
France Under-21 winger Marcus Thuram, signed from relegated French league side Guingamp, won the decisive penalty in last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Bayern.
The spot-kick was converted by left-back Ramy Bensebaini, signed out of relative obscurity from Ligue 1 team Rennes.
One to watch: Thomas Mueller
The Bayern Munich veteran Thomas Mueller is enjoying a new lease of life under interim coach Flick.
The 30-year-old replaced the injured Coman on Wednesday, then scored in the win over Spurs, reacting fastest when Canadian teen Alphonso Davies hit the post and tapping home.
Mueller is also the top goal-maker in the Bundesliga with a league-high of nine assists in 14 appearances after setting up Ivan Perisic in last Saturday’s defeat at Gladbach.
Expect Mueller to inflict more misery on Bremen having set up 16 goals and scored 12 times against Werder in his impressive career.
21 – Wins Mueller has enjoyed for Bayern in 23 games over Bremen, alongside two draws and no defeats.
16 – Times Lewandowski has scored in the league this season, identical to his tally of 16 goals in 19 matches against Bremen during his career.
6 – Goals Jadon Sancho has scored, creating three more, in his last five games, proving Dortmund’s teenage England winger is back on form for the visit to Mainz on Saturday.
Fixtures (all times 1430 unless stated)
Hoffenheim v Augsburg (1930)
Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin v Freiburg, Mainz v Borussia Dortmund, Cologne v Bayer Leverkusen, Paderborn v Union Berlin, Fortuna Duesseldorf v RB Leipzig (1730)
Wolfsburg v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Schalke v Eintracht Frankfurt (1700)