BERLIN, Germany, September 13 – Bayern Munich’s bosses have put pressure on coach Pep Guardiola ahead of Saturday’s Bundesliga home match with Hanover 96 as the European champions enter a tough few weeks.
Bayern are second in the Bundesliga behind rivals Borussia Dortmund and launch the defence of their Champions League title against CSKA Moscow next Tuesday.
Then follows an away trip to Schalke 04, home matches against Hanover, again, in the cup, Wolfsburg in the league, then a Champions League away trip to Manchester City before facing Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga — all in the next three weeks.
Despite their punishing schedule, Bayern’s top brass expect their side to prove they are just as strong under Guardiola as they were under his predecessor Jupp Heynckes.
“We have to immediately go full throttle and tackle our work with hunger, as we did so phenomenally last season,” president Uli Hoeness told German daily Bild.
Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge also said there can be no more excuses. “We’re at the stage where you can’t allow for any more weaknesses”, he said, refering to Bayern’s 1-1 draw at Freiburg a fortnight ago.
Stern-faced director of sport Matthias Sammer also described the result as “reckless and annoying” after Guardiola fielded a weakened side.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben beleives Bayern must quickly turn their attantions back to the league, having had a host of players on recent international duty.
“We have to hit the ground running and switch back to Bundesliga mode, Hanover won’t give us time to settle,” said Robben.
“We must be careful they don’t hit us on the counter-attack, they’ll be strong.”
Bayern have a few injury problems with central midfielders Mario Goetze, Thiago Alcantara, plus defensive midfielders Javi Martinez and Jan Kirchoff on the sidelines.
But they expect to have Germany star Bastian Schweinsteiger back as their vice-captain trained on Thursday after spraining his ankle at Freiburg.
With four games played, Bayern are two points behind leaders Borussia, something which does not bother Robben.
“Dortmund is not the most important thing for us, we have to deal with ourselves,” said the Dutch winger.
“Of course, we want to be at the top of the league, but you can only do that if you win.”
Dortmund, the only team with a 100 percent record, host Hamburg on Saturday with concerns over Poland midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski, who injured knee ligaments on international duty.
“It has got better, but it’s still not good, it’ll be close,” said Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.
Striker Robert Lewandowski is expected to be fit after suffering a knee strain while midfielder Marco Reus has trained since Wednesday after missing Germany’s World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands on Tuesday with an upset stomach.
Schalke 04 warm-up for Wednesday’s opening Champions League visit by Steaua Bucharest with a trip to mid-table Mainz and are hoping Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will soon be back after a knee injury.
“He’s still not an option for the weekend, but for the game against Bucharest, we’ll have to wait and see,” said Schalke coach Jens Keller.
Schalke are out to prove their victory over Bayer Leverkusen a fortnight ago was no fluke, with their Hungary striker Adam Szalai facing his former club.
But new signing Kevin-Prince Boateng is an injury concern, having pulled out of Ghana’s international last week with a knee injury.
Hertha Berlin v VfB Stuttgart
Bayern Munich v Hanover 96, Bayer Leverkusen v VfL Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz 05 v Schalke 04, Augsburg v Freiburg,Borussia Dortmund vHamburg
Hoffenheim v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Eintracht Braunschweig v Nuremberg