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Guardiola identifies threat from ´intense´ Leverkusen

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 5 Feb 2016

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Pep Guardiola believes Bayern Munich are in for a tough test against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

German champions Bayern return to action for the first time since it was announced that coach Guardiola will join Manchester City at the end of the season when they visit the BayArena on Saturday.

Guardiola made it clear on Friday that Bayern’s fight for honours on three fronts would retain his focus until he leaves for Manchester, and warned his players to be on their guard against Roger Schmidt’s side.

In-form strike duo Stefan Kiessling and Javier Hernandez have helped Leverkusen up to fourth in the Bundesliga standings but Guardiola believes they carry threats all over the field.

“Leverkusen are more than just Chicharito [Hernandez] and Kiessling. We are definitely facing one of the best teams in Germany,” he said.

“They play very intense, that is good for us. It will be difficult.

“If Leverkusen play high balls in to the box we’ll have problems, but then everyone struggles against Kiessling.”

Guardiola’s defence will be without the injured Jerome Boateng (groin) and Javi Martinez (knee), while midfielder Joshua Kimmich was deployed at centre-back during last weekend’s 2-0 win over Hoffenheim.

The shortage prompted Bayern to bring Serdar Tasci in on loan from Spartak Moscow on transfer deadline day, only for the 28-year-old to sustain a head injury in training that will rule him out this weekend.

“He’ll train in two to three days,” Guardiola said of Tasci. “He’ll help us. He has experience, is fast and good on the ball.”

One piece of good news on the defensive front for Bayern is Holger Badstuber having completed 90 minutes in the last two matches, as he steps up fitness following a prolonged injury nightmare.

Nevertheless, Guardiola is keen to proceed cautiously with the Germany international.

“I missed Holger for a long, long time,” he added. “He has a big heart and is a top, top player.”

“But someone like Holger needs a break sometimes and it is right therefore that the club brought in Tasci.”

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