Schweinsteiger rallies Bayern

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BERLIN, November 19- Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger has urged his side to grab all three points in a "crucial" away match at Leverkusen that could see the Bavarians relaunch their bid to defend the Bundesliga title.

Second-placed Leverkusen host Bayern on Saturday with Bayern sixth in the table, but still 12 points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.

With five games left until the German league’s four-week winter break, Schweinsteiger is aware the clock is ticking and says he wants to take a maximum 15 points from those remaining games.

"We want three points to close the gap," said the 26-year-old, who played in Germany’s goalless draw with Sweden in Gothenburg on Wednesday.

"It’s up to us how the championship ends."

Bayern’s next four league games after Leverkusen — against Eintracht Frankfurt, Schalke 04, St. Pauli and VfB Stuttgart — are all winnable games on paper, but Schweinsteiger is hoping their rivals will also drop points on the way.

Bayern fielded French playmaker Franck Ribery, defenders Breno and Diego Contento in a warm-up match in midweek against third division Unterhaching from Bavaria, which the German giants won 2-1.

"The goal was for our injured players to gain match practice and rediscover their rhythm," said Bayern coach Louis van Gaal.

Leverkusen are expected to have Finland defender Sami Hyypia, who has recently recovered from an ankle injury, back at the heart of their defence.

"The probability that he will play from the start is very high," said coach Jupp Heynckes.

Heynckes also hopes Swiss striker Eren Derdiyok is ready to play after recovering from a thigh muscle injury.

"If the doctors say it’s okay, he’s in the squad," said Heynckes.

League leaders Dortmund are hoping to pick up their 11th win from 12 league games when they travel to Freiburg on Saturday.

Third-placed Mainz will have new Germany caps Lewis Holtby and Andre Schuerrle in their side for their trip to Moenchengladbach as they look to recover from three consecutive defeats.

Hoffenheim are waiting to see if they will have Bosnia midfielder Sejad Salihovic and Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson in their side to face Frankfurt after the pair both complained of ankle problems in training.

Tenth-placed Nuremberg will be without midfielder Javier Pinola for their game against Kasierslautern after the Argentinian was banned for four games by the German Football Federation (DFB) for spitting at Schweinsteiger.

Saturday

Schalke 04 v Werder Bremen

Eintracht Frankfurt v Hoffenheim

Borussia M’gladbach v Mainz 05

Freiburg v Borussia Dortmund

Hanover 96 v Hamburg

Nuremberg v Kaiserslautern

Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich

Sunday

VfB Stuttgart v Cologne

St. Pauli v VfL Wolfsburg

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