Bayern eye first place, Bayer seek to stay alive | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 23.11.2015
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Bayern eye first place, Bayer seek to stay alive

Bayern Munich go into their fifth game in the Champions League hoping to clinch first place in Group F. In Group E, meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen need a win to have any hope of advancing to the round of 16.

The points of departure for the two German teams in action in the Champions League on Tuesday could hardly be any more different.

Bayern Munich, who have dominated the Bundesliga so far this season, need only a point at home against Olympiacos to ensure that they will advance to the knock-out stage, so you might think coach Pep Guardiola might feel confortable resting the odd starter. Not a chance!

"This is a final for us," the Spanish coach told reporters in Munich on Monday. "We'll try and do everything we can to win the game and hold first place" - which Bayern would clinch with a victory.

This means Guardiola is also hoping that left back David Alaba will be able to play on Tuesday, despite having sustained an ankle injury in a Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg slide tackle that required him to be subbed off in Bayern's 3-1 win at Schalke on Saturday.

"The injury isn't so bad, the game was only two days ago, he won't train today and we'll see if he can play," Guardiola said. "We don't want to take any risks, but as I said, this is a final for us, so we want him to play." Guardiola may not decide until shortly before kick off, whether to start Alaba.

Bayern's coach said that despite the fact that they easily beat Olympiacos 3-0 in their match in Athens, the Greek side had proved that they are not to be taken lightly when they defeated Arsenal in North London. "They have a lot of quality," Guardiola said.

Bundesliga - FC Schalke 04 - FC Bayern München 13. Spieltag

Guardiola faces a tricky decision about whether to play Alaba on Tuesday

Leverkusen playing for their Champions League lives

Guardiola's counterpart at Bayer Leverkusen likely wishes these were the kind of worries he had.

Not only does Roger Schmidt's side need to take the full three points in Belarus to keep alive their chances of advancing, but he will also have to make do without central defenders Ömer Toprak and Kyrgiakos Papadopoulos. Toprak has been ruled out by a red card suspension, while Papadopoulos is serving a ban for an accumulation of yellows.

Jonathan Tah will almost certainly step in to one of the central defending slots, but what Schmidt will do with the other is unclear. Tim Jedvaj would be an option, but he is not fit - and neither is the captain, Lars Bender, who has also been known to fill in at central defense. The remaining options are the Brazilian, Andre Ramalho, who has seen little playing time with the Werkself so far, and Sebastian Boenisch.

The good news for Leverkusen is that in BATE Borisov, they are up against the last-placed team in Group E - a team they beat 4-1 at home - and should be able to handle even with two key defenders missing.

The bad news is that not only will they need to win that game to keep their hopes of advancing alive, but they will need help from Barcelona to do so. Should Leverkusen win and Barcelona beat Rome (which looks a good bet), the Germans would move past the Italians into second in the group. But even if this happens, Leverkusen would still need to either beat Barcelona in their last group-stage game next month - or rely on Borisov taking points from Roma - in order to advance.

One thing Leverkusen should be able to rely on is a goal from Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. The Mexican has been unstoppable lately, having found the back of the net in each of his last seven games. He had a pair in their 3-1 win in Frankfurt at the weekend.

pfd/ (dpa, AP, AFP)

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