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    Magath: No reason to be nervous

2006-03-18 07:27

BERLIN: Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath says the German champions have a perfect opportunity to prove a point when they entertain third-placed Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

"There is no reason to be nervous," said Magath, whose team have earned only one point from their last two league games and are out of the Champions League after a heavy defeat by AC Milan.

"With no Champions League to worry about, we can fully concentrate on the Bundesliga and show just how strong we are," the Bayern coach told reporters.

Bayern, forced to focus on yet another domestic League and Cup double, are six points clear of second-placed Hamburg SV with Schalke in third two further points adrift.

The Gelsenkirchen side have been the most successful team since the winter break, collecting 20 points from a maximum 24 out of eight games.

"Schalke are the team of the moment, and we have to stop them to end this little crisis we're going through," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told soccer magazine Kicker.

Bayern, who have won only one of their last three home games against Schalke, will be missing Sebastian Deisler after the Germany midfielder hurt his troublesome right knee again in training.

New pitch

Schalke coach Mirko Slomka also has injury worries with Brazilian playmaker Lincoln and Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi missing because of knee problems.

Wintry weather has damaged the pitch at Munich's new Allianz Arena, which was re-laid last November and there will be a new one for Sunday's game.

The Munich stadium, one of the showcase venues for the June 9-July 9 World Cup finals, needed repairs earlier this month after a bearing in a joint between two concrete slabs was damaged.

Hamburg SV visit VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday, three days after being knocked out of the UEFA Cup despite a brave 3-1 win over Rapid Bucharest in the second leg of their fourth-round tie.

"We played really well," HSV's Belgium defender Daniel van Buyten said after that game. "If we keep playing like that in the Bundesliga, I'm sure we'll make the Champions League."

Werder Bremen, who dropped to fourth place with a 3-0 home defeat by Hertha Berlin last weekend, travel to Nuremberg, also on Saturday.

Hertha, who moved up to sixth and remain in the hunt for places in the UEFA Cup next season, will entertain Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday.

(China Daily 03/18/2006 page11)


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