Bayern seek to bounce back in cup test against Wolfsburg

March 18th, 2008 - 1:26 pm ICT by admin  

(Preview: German Cup)
Hamburg, March 18 (DPA) Bayern Munich face a test of character when they face on-form VfL Wolfsburg at home in the semi-finals of football’s German Cup Wednesday following two successive defeats. Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld had stern words for his team following Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Energie Cottbus, saying there was a lack of professional attitude from several of his players.

On Monday, Germany’s mass-circulation Bild newspaper called the Bayern players “arrogant millionaires” and urged Hitzfeld to drop five - midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, striker Miroslav Klose and defenders Daniel van Buyten, Lucio and Philipp Lahm.

General manager Uli Hoeness was also annoyed at the way the league leaders approached the game against the bottom-placed team.

“When the team at the bottom beats the team at the top then it’s not because they have the better individual players but because our better individual players didn’t do anything,” he said.

Hitzfeld’s lack of patience with some players was demonstrated Friday when he suspended Argentina defender Martin Demichelis because he had refused to play in a defensive midfield role.

“From now on there will be no concessions and only form counts when I pick the team,” he said.

Demichelis, however, returns to the squad for Wednesday’s match. “He has apologised and with that the matter is now over,” the coach said Monday.

While Bayern still enjoy a five-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, the form of some players has dipped. Germany striker Klose has scored only twice in the last 16 league games and has been overshadowed by strike partner Luca Toni.

The Italian international is suspended Wednesday, enabling Lukas Podolski to persuade the coach he should be playing more regularly.

Hitzfeld will also have to replace right-back Willy Sagnol who has a neck strain.

“I expect two wins now from the team,” club president Franz Beckenbauer said.

“We have to win in front of our own fans against Wolfsburg and in the top league match next weekend against Leverkusen to repair the damage caused against Cottbus.”

Bayern, who had lost during the week at home to Anderlecht in the UEFA Cup, come against their old coach Felix Magath and a Wolfsburg side who Sunday won 1-0 at Werder Bremen and have now picked up 19 points from their last eight games.

In addition, Wolfsburg eliminated SV Hamburg and Schalke 04 in the two previous rounds of the cup as they attempt to reach the final for only the second time, following 1995 when they lost to Borussia Moenchengladbach.

“We are now able to win at the leading clubs. Our win at Schalke (2-1 Feb 15) was no one-day wonder,” said Magath, who won the league and cup double in successive seasons with Bayern.

The other semi-final on Tuesday sees Borussia Dortmund take on this season’s big giant-killers Carl Zeiss Jena.

While Jena appear to be heading for relegation to the third division, they have already claimed the scalps of top-flight teams VfB Stuttgart, cup holders Nuremberg and Arminia Bielefeld in the competition.

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