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Bayern Munich preps for intense schedule ahead

AFP · 19 Mar 2010, 08:08

Published: 19 Mar 2010 08:08 GMT+01:00

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Bayern face Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, then title-rivals Schalke 04 twice in ten days first in the German Cup, then the league, as well as tackling their Champions League last-eight opponents, the identity of whom will be revealed in Friday's draw.

The schedule means Bayern have seven matches in the space of three weeks, including head-to-head showdowns with title rivals Schalke and Leverkusen, the cup semi-final trip to Schalke, and the last-eight tie in the Champions League.

"These will be the three weeks of truth," said Bayern's director of sport Christian Nerlinger, one of coach Louis van Gaal's right-hand men. "The team faces an incredible task over the coming weeks if we're to win trophies."

Bayern hope French midfielder Franck Ribery will be able to take some part in the next few weeks as the playmaker struggles with an ankle injury.

"He'll be back soon, and he'll be 100 percent fit," Nerlinger said.

Ribery could be a vital ace to help Bayern alongside Dutch winger Arjen Robben, and Munich are also hoping Hamit Altintop (flu), Mario Gomez (ruptured muscle) and Martin Demichelis (facial injury) will recover soon.

Bayern had to come from behind to beat relegation-threatened Freiburg 2-1 last Saturday and only two second-half goals from Robben got them out of trouble.

"We have to do better than that in our forthcoming matches, that's obvious," said Nerlinger.

Bayern welcome back Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger from a one-match suspension while Frankfurt's Maik Franz is out after being red-carded last weekend against Hannover.

Second-place Schalke are bidding to win their first German league title since 1958 and they travel to fifth-placed Hamburg on Sunday.

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Schalke's Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi has scored three goals in the last four league games and is joint second in the top-scorer table with 14 alongside Wolfsburg's Edin Dzeko while Bayer Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling has 16.

"I'm scoring because the team is working well," said Kuranyi. "Winning in Hamburg is not an unrealistic target, but to do so we'll have to be totally focused."

Third-placed Leverkusen are at fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund on Saturday with Bayer desperate to stay in the title race while Dortmund are chasing their third-straight win.

Defending champions Wolfsburg hope to have goalkeeper Diego Benaglio back after February's knee operation for Sunday's clash with bottom side Hertha Berlin who are five points adrift after losing to Nuremberg last weekend.

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