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Full-strength Bayern tune up for Arsenal CL clash Dortmund short of strikers, face Freiburg

BERLIN, March 7, (AFP): Runaway leaders Bayern Munich will be at virtually full strength for Saturday’s Bundesliga clash at VfL Wolfsburg as they tune up for next week’s Champions League clash with Arsenal. Long-term knee-injury victim Holger Badstuber is the only absentee as stars Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller and Xherdan Shaqiri all return from recent knocks. Ribery, UEFA’s best player in Europe last season, has not played for Bayern in more than a month after an operation on his buttocks, but made an appearance for France on Wednesday. “I felt good, those few minutes against the Netherlands were good to get some match practice back. I’m ready,” said Ribery after France enjoyed a 2-0 win over the Dutch. Bayern are looking to extend their record unbeaten league run to 49 matches and to claim their 11th consecutive victory.

Fifth-placed Wolfsburg were hammered 6-2 at Hoffenheim last Sunday and Bayern’s director of sport Matthias Sammer expects a backlash at the Volkswagen Arena. With a 20-point lead, Bayern could even wrap up the Bundesliga title before the end of the month. Coach Pep Guardiola will want a convincing win before Tuesday’s Champions League last 16, second leg at home to Arsenal with the hosts leading 2-0 from the first-leg in London. Second-placed Borussia Dortmund head to Freiburg on Sunday with a shortage of strikers. Poland’s Robert Lewandowski sat out Wednesday’s international against Scotland with a knee strain and Under-23 striker Marvin Ducksch is out for a fortnight with an ankle injury.

It leaves Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp with only reserve striker Julian Schieber fit, but Germany winger Marco Reus could be switched to play up front. Bayer Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia is enduring the first crisis of his career after five straight defeats as they look for a first victory in seven years at Hanover 96 on Saturday. Hyypia is hoping to have defensive midfielder Sven Bender back after a dead leg. Schalke 04 are looking to bounce back from successive horror defeats when they host Hoffenheim. The Royal Blues were drubbed 6-1 by Real Madrid in the Champions League, then crashed 5-1 at Bayern last Sunday in the Bundesliga.
 
“We have to look forward now and give the right response on the pitch against Hoffenheim,” said coach Jens Keller. Peru winger Jefferson Farfan is doubtful with an inflamed knee while centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos is definitely out after being sent off in Munich.
 
Playing Saturday (all times 17:30 local unless specified)
Schalke 04 vs Hoffenheim, Bor. Moenchengladbach vs Augsburg, VfB Stuttgart v Eintracht Braunschweig, Hannover 96 vs Bayer Leverkusen, VfL Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich, Hamburg vs Eintracht Frankfurt, Nuremberg vs Werder Bremen (20:30 local)
 
Playing Sunday
Freiburg vs Borussia Dortmund, Mainz 05 vs Hertha Berlin (19:30 local)
Note: Bundesliga matches are   shown live on Dubai sports for free.

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