Arturo Vidal will put all friendships aside on Saturday when Bayern Munich welcome his former club Bayer Leverkusen to the Allianz Arena.
The Chile international has slotted into the gap left by Bastian Schweinsteiger at Bayern after signing a four-year deal in July, ending his stay in Italy with Juventus.
Vidal has started both Bundesliga matches of the 2015-16 campaign for Pep Guardiola and now prepares to face the club where he rose to prominence.
During his last season with Leverkusen in 2010-11, Vidal scored 10 league goals for the club as they finished runners-up behind Borussia Dortmund – three points clear of Bayern.
However, his loyalties now lie with the defending champions and he is intent on taking all three points of his previous employers.
“On the pitch we’re opponents. I’ll play as usual. I’ll give everything I can, as always,” he said. “The friendship will be put on hold.
“Of course it will be a special match for me. I’m very thankful to Bayer for having given me the opportunity to go to Europe, but now I play for Bayern and will give everything I have to win.
“We’ll have to be very careful and focused right from the beginning.”
Bayern have opened their title defence in confident fashion with two successive victories, scoring eight goals in the process and conceding only one.
Guardiola’s side have long been seen as favourites for the title – which would be their fourth in a row – but Saturday’s clash provides them with their first real test.
Leverkusen have also been impressive in the opening two rounds of the campaign with victories over Hoffenheim and Hannover, and their morale was boosted further as they secured a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Wednesday.
Despite trailing 1-0 from the first leg with Lazio, Leverkusen turned the tie around at the BayArena with a 3-0 to set up group ties against Barcelona, Roma and BATE.
Roger Schmidt may be without one of his star performers from last season, though, after South Korean forward Son Heung-min was linked with a move to the Premier League.
Son did not feature against Lazio due to illness, but a switch to Tottenham has also been mooted in recent days so he may not be deemed to be in the right frame of mind to face Bayern.
That will place the pressure firmly of Karim Bellarabi and Hakan Calhanoglu to lead the charge against the defending champions, with Stefan Kiessling looking for his third goal of the season in all competitions.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!