Bayern Munich will be out to secure a confidence-boosting victory over Augsburg on Saturday ahead of a huge UEFA Champions League task.
Bayern, already crowned German champions, collapsed in the first leg of their semi-final against Barcelona in Europe’s premier club competition on Wednesday, conceding three times in the last 13 minutes.
That gave the La Liga leaders a 3-0 home win and set up their likely progression to a final against either Juventus or Real Madrid in Berlin on June 6.
While Bayern will take heart from their Champions League quarter-final – where they lost 3-1 at Porto only to turn the tie around with a 6-1 home win in the second leg – achieving the feat against Barca is expected to be considerably tougher.
The Bavarian giants could do with a lift this weekend, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer acknowledging spirits were low after their loss on Pep Guardiola’s return to Camp Nou.
“I think we were a little thrown by the first goal. Our glimmer of hope is the game against Porto,” Neuer told the club’s official website.
Augsburg, punching above their weight in sixth, will be desperate for a result as they strive for European football next season.
Markus Weinzierl’s side occupy one of the two UEFA Europa League spots, but have won just two of their last 12 matches.
With Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund all snapping at their heels, a heavy defeat would strike a major blow to their chances of securing a top-six finish with just another two matches remaining after this weekend
Bayern lost just their third Bundesliga game of the season last weekend, slumping to a 2-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.
But in the midst of an injury crisis that has sidelined Arjen Robben (calf), Franck Ribery (ankle), David Alaba (knee) and Holger Badstuber (thigh), Bayern had one eye on their Champions League semi-final.
Winning the league already allowed them such a luxury and Augsburg will hope for a similar result – particularly given the position Bayern find themselves in against Barcelona.
Robert Lewandowski, who missed the Leverkusen match but returned against Barcelona wearing a facial mask, is set to feature again.
The Poland international is the league’s third top scorer, with 16, three behind Frankfurt’s Alexander Meier.
Guardiola’s side scored four times in the second half of their 4-0 win at Augsburg earlier this season, with Robben netting twice.
Augsburg famously beat Bayern 1-0 in April last year, but that victory came after seven straight losses to the champions.
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