Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Bayern Munich, assured of a place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, left several regulars, including Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer, behind on Monday when they travelled to Madrid to face Atletico.
In addition to star striker Lewandowski and club captain and goalkeeper Neuer, midfielders Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso will remain in Munich.
“Lewandowski, Neuer, Goretzka, Tolisso stay here,” coach Hansi Flick told a press conference. “They will be rested.”
Flick said Tolisso was not fully fit but might be back to face RB Leipzig at the weekend.
“Everyone else is in the squad,” Flick said adding that he would make decisions on the starting line-up ahead of the game on Tuesday.
“I’ll wait until tomorrow and then go through who’s in a good mood. Then we’ll see who’s playing.”
Flick said defender Niklas Suele, who returned from coronavirus quarantine with 32 minutes off the bench against Stuttgart on Saturday, might start.
“The odds aren’t bad,” said the coach.
With two rounds to play, Bayern are sure to finish top of Group A, but Atletico are in a three-way battle for second.
Flick said he was not worried about fielding a less-experienced team in Madrid.
“Playing against Atletico, especially as a young player, is a great experience. You should enjoy it,” he said.
Bayern have not lost in the Champions League since March 2019 and have won their last 15 games in the competition.
“It’ll work,” said Flick. “At the moment we are not winning any beauty prizes, but the team is able to fight for 90 minutes. And that without much preparation.
“We played through last season. We are satisfied with what we have achieved and we are doing well, but there are still big games to play in the next two and a half weeks.”
He said Alexander Nubel would start in goal while Neuer rested.
“I will of course watch the game,” Neuer told the club website. “It’s important for me to be able to switch off, especially with the mammoth programme that we’ve faced over recent weeks and months. It’s difficult to take breaks. I’ll recover, maybe I’ll just relax a bit to be my old self this weekend against RB Leipzig.”
Javi Martinez joined Flick at the press conference and confirmed he was still thinking of leaving Bayern.
“In the summer, I was thinking: ‘If an offer comes that is good for me and the club, I will move’,” the 32-year-old Spaniard said. “Playing another year for Bayern is very good. But I would like to try something new before I end my career.”
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