Newly crowned Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich are sure to have one eye on their UEFA Champions League semi-final despite a tough trip to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s men – who won the league last week – will have to pick themselves up after a disappointing semi-final exit on penalties to rivals Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday’s DFB Pokal semi-final.
Bayern, who reached the last four after defeating Leverkusen in their own penalty shootout, missed all four spot-kicks they had against Dortmund.
So despite Bayern’s total dominance of German football this season, they may end up with ‘just’ one trophy if Barcelona bundle them out of Europe’s premier club competition in a tie that begins at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
For that reason alone, Bayern’s trip to the BayArena is likely to take a backseat in their Barcelona preparations.
Robert Lewandowski (broken jaw and broken nose) and Arjen Robben (calf) suffered serious injuries against Dortmund and will miss out but further rotation is likely from Guardiola.
Bayern’s mindset was summed up with the post-match comments of captain Philipp Lahm and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Lahm said: “Our big aim was to get to the Cup final and we didn’t manage it…we have to get over that.
“We’ll work on it over the next few days but then we’ve got to look forward again [ahead of a] tough challenge [against Barcelona].”
Rummenigge added: “We need to pick ourselves up and make sure we go into next Wednesday’s game in Barcelona with renewed dynamism and spirit.”
Neither mentioned Leverkusen and that will suit Roger Schmidt’s side just fine.
They are unbeaten in nine Bundesliga matches, with a seven-match winning streak halted by a 1-1 derby draw at Cologne last time out.
That run has seen them close to within two points of Borussia Monchengladbach and assure themselves of a top-four finish.
The Bundesliga’s top three earn automatic qualification into the UEFA Champions League’s group stages next season, with the fourth to enter the qualifying rounds.
Heading into this weekend, the top three consist of Bayern (76 points), Wolfsburg (61) and Gladbach (57), but Leverkusen (55) still have a match to come against the third-placed side.
Midfielder Gonzalo Castro (knee) and defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos (shoulder) will be absent for Leverkusen.
Bayern have won the last two Bundesliga games against Leverkusen but the latter’s double over the Bavarians in 2012-13 remains fresh in the memory.
Just the one goal settled their meeting earlier this season, with Franck Ribery’s 51st-minute goal proving enough for the champions.
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