Bayern Munich hopes to end season on high as Robben returns

Defending champions Bayern Munich face strugglers Stuttgart on Saturday hoping to end their 2010 Bundesliga campaign on a high, but with one eye on next year as Arjen Robben returns to training.

Bayern Munich hopes to end season on high as Robben returns
Photo: DPA

Bayern are sixth in the table and lag 17 points behind leaders Dortmund, but are set to welcome back injured stars Robben, Germany veteran Miroslav Klose and striker Ivica Olic after the Christmas break.

The Bundesliga finishes for the year on Sunday evening with Bayern’s game and coach Louis van Gaal wants three points from Stuttgart to close the gap.

The champions are expected to launch a title surge next season, especially with chief playmaker Robben due back in January.

The Dutchman has been out since July’s World Cup with a torn hamstring, but resumed training on Thursday and said he is looking forward to his anticipated Bundesliga return against Wolfsburg on January 15.

“I’m part of the team again,” the Dutch ace enthused after his first session back with the squad. “I’ve worked towards this for a long time, being back on the pitch with the lads is an indescribable feeling.”

After seeing Stuttgart win 5-1 in Europa League action on Thursday night against Danish club Odense, coach Bruno Labbadia faces Bayern in his first league game in charge since taking over from Jens Keller, who was sacked last weekend.

Although coach Jurgen Klopp refuses to talk about Dortmund winning their first Bundesliga title since 2002, his young side are 11-points clear of second-placed Leverkusen.

They wrap up the first half of the season on Saturday against Frankfurt and face rumours Germany defender Mats Hummels is being courted by Bayern with a view to a transfer over in the January break.

Frankfurt have the league’s top scorer Theofanis Gekas, who has netted 13 goals this season, in their side, but with 39 goals already this season, Dortmund are flying high.

Leverkusen are at home to fifth-placed Freiburg on Sunday and will be without Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler, who has a knee injury.

Fourth-placed Mainz are at Hamburg-based St Pauli on Saturday with coach Thomas Tuchel desperate to avoid a third-straight defeat.

Mid-table Bremen are home to Kaiserslautern with 34-year-old captain Torsten Frings admitting he is considering retiring at the end of the season when his contract expires.

Bremen are without striker Hugo Almeida, who is suspended for a red card, while ex-Chelsea star Claudio Pizarro is expected to play.

Hoffenheim are at Wolfsburg on Saturday with both sides facing speculation involving Bayern.

While Munich captain Mark van Bommel has been linked to a January switch to Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo is reported to be a target to replace the Dutchman in Bayern.

Hoffenheim are without midfielder Tobias Weis who has a thigh injury.

After their terrible start to the season which saw them lose their first four games, Schalke 04 are up to mid-table and chasing their third-straight win when they play Cologne on Saturday.

Coach Felix Magath has reacted calmly to the latest rumours about goalkeeper Manuel Neuer being set to join Bayern in 2012.

“Speculation in the papers doesn’t interest me,” he said.

“I am only concerned with something if it is put to me directly.”

Cologne are without forward Milivoje Novakovic who has a thigh injury.


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British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.