Berlin (AFP) – Strugglers Ingolstadt will take inspiration from the New England Patriot’s stunning Super Bowl fightback when they host Bayern Munich on Saturday with the Bundesliga leaders expecting a ‘grubby’ Bavarian derby.
Bayern host Arsenal at the Allianz Arena next Wednesday, but before the Champions League last 16 clash, Munich must take care of Bundesliga business and travel 80 kilometres (50mi) north to their neighbours.
Bayern can expect tough times at Ingolstadt’s tiny Audi Sportpark, which holds 15,000, against the hard-working hosts — just like at bottom side Darmstadt in last December’s scrappy 1-0 win after Xabi Alonso’s goal.
“We’ve already seen what it was like at Darmstadt. It will be a grubby game on Saturday,” said Bayern’s Germany star Thomas Mueller with Ingolstadt second from bottom.
Arjen Robben says this is the “week of truth” for Bayern’s European aspirations and Ingolstadt hope Bayern are distracted by the Arsenal clash.
“On paper, it’s obvious how this game will go,” said Ingolstadt’s coach Maik Walpurgis.
“Anything else would be a surprise, but that is exactly our goal.”
Bayern have won all three previous league meetings between the clubs and poached a 2-1 win on their previous visit in May 2016.
But the hosts hope for an upset — inspired by last Sunday’s Super Bowl winners.
The New England Patriots fought back from 21-0 down to beat Atlanta in a fairytale display and Ingolstadt’s assistant coach Michael Henke took heart.
“You can take a lot of motivation from it. The Super Bowl has shown that you have to overcome set-backs and now, like New England, we have to manage a ‘lucky punch’,” said Henke.
Bayern will be near full strength, but are reeling from the news club captain Philipp Lahm will be retiring at the of the season, following Tuesday’s announcement, and has refused the vacant sports director role.
Bayern’s Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who has scored eight goals in his last seven league games in a tally of 15 for the season.
Ingolstadt hope to have Australia striker Mathew Leckie back from injury, but Israel midfielder Almog Cohen is struggling with a knee knock.
– Forsberg returns –
Second-placed RB Leipzig host relegation-threatened Hamburg with top-scorer Timo Werner, who has netted 11 goals, set to return after missing last week’s defeat at Borussia Dortmund with flu.
The striker sat out training on Thursday with a leg knock, but should be fit, while Swedish playmaker Emil Forsberg returns after a three-match ban.
Eintracht Frankfurt are at Bayer Leverkusen with coach Nico Kovac’s third-placed side enjoying a remarkable turn out after narrowly avoiding relegation last season and have won their last three games.
Leverkusen, who have lost their last two, are still without ex-Manchester United striker Chicharito, who has a groin injury.
New signing, teenage Jamaican winger Leon Bailey hoping to start after making his debut off the bench in last Friday’s 1-0 defeat to Hamburg.
Borussia Dortmund are at bottom side Darmstadt on Saturday with the league’s top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang aiming to add to his tally of 17 goals.
Fourth-placed Dortmund lost their ‘punch’, says coach Thomas Tuchel, after drawing four of their last six league games and needed penalties to beat Hertha Berlin in the German Cup on Wednesday.
“We have good spirit and quality on the pitch, but what we are missing at the moment is a bit of luck, the punch, the will to decide games,” said Tuchel.
It will be interesting to see if he plays Germany’s World Cup winner Mario Goetze who was left on the bench for last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leipzig.
Fixtures (All times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Mainz v Augsburg (1930)
Bayer Leverkusen V E. Frankfurt, Ingolstadt v Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Darmstadt v Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig v Hamburg, Schalke v Hertha Berlin (1730)
Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim, Freiburg v Cologne (1630)
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