MUNICH: Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich continue their renewed season with only one injury doubt ahead of a home game against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Coach Hansi Flick said in an on-line press conference on Friday that central midfielder Thiago was unlikely to play because of a hip muscle problem.

“We’ll have to wait,” Flick said.

Frankfurt are 13th in the table and lost at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach last Saturday for a fourth straight Bundesliga defeat, but they humiliated Bayern 5-1 in November.

Even though Bayern were reduced to 10 men after nine minutes that day when Jerome Boateng was sent off, that defeat cost Flick’s predecessor Niko Kovac his job.

“Frankfurt overwhelmed us there with their dynamism,” Flick said. “It’s a different game, with different conditions. It starts at zero.”

Bayern won behind closed doors away to Union Berlin last Sunday. This will be their first match at home since the league resumed.

“Each of us has at least one game without an audience behind us and we know what to expect,” he said. “Before the game against Union we trained in our stadium. So the team knows what kind of atmosphere they can expect. We like playing at the Allianz Arena.”

Bayern lead Borussia Dortmund by four points and the two teams meet on Tuesday, when Bayern travel to the Ruhr for a potentially pivotal match.

Flick insisted his team would not be distracted on Saturday.

“The duel with Dortmund next week will not matter. We’ll play against Frankfurt. That’s the next step we want to take. Only then will we look towards Dortmund.”

Bayern have three long-term injury absentees: Philippe Coutinho and Corentin Tolisso — who both underwent ankle surgery in April — and Niklas Suele who is recovering from a knee ligament injury.

“Niklas has expressed the desire to play this season. We must see what the stability in the knee allows,” said Flick.

Meanwhile, Franz Beckenbauer has been invited to watch Bayern Munich’s behind-closed-doors home match against Eintracht Frankfurt this weekend, he said on Friday.

“I’m leaving my house for the first time in a long time,” 74-year-old Beckenbauer told German daily Bild.

Beckenbauer, whose trial on corruption charges linked to the 2006 World Cup ended without a verdict late last month, was invited to the game by Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as part of an eight-person delegation that will also include former club president Uli Hoeness.

Nicknamed ‘Kaiser’, Beckenbauer was team-mates with both Hoeness and Rummenigge when Bayern dominated European football, winning three straight European Cups in the 1970s.

Beckenbauer, whose health has deteriorated in recent years, will have to wear a face mask and sit several seats away from others in the delegation, as the Bundesliga undertakes its second round of matches since coming back from its coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

“I will be able to concentrate on the match and enjoy it. Otherwise I’d be asked all the time: ‘Franz, what do you think about that move?’” he said. “I much prefer being able to watch the match without having to talk all the time.”

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2020

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