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Bayern kick-off 2009 with Stuttgart Cup test

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 26 Jan 2009

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Bayern Munich begin their 2009 campaign with a testing last-16 German Cup tie at Stuttgart, the same team who held the German champions to a 2-2 draw in their last match of 2008.

After a one-and-a-half-month winter break, a training camp in the Dubai sunshine and five wins from five friendly matches, Bayern must steel themselves for a return to competitive action.

The Bavarian giants, second in the German championship on goal difference behind leaders Hoffenheim and into the last 16 of the Champions League, need to “step up another level in order to win trophies”, according to president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Bayern’s league campaign resumes with a trip to Hamburg on Friday.

The team, unbeaten in sixteen matches and reinforced by the arrival of American midfielder Landon Donovan on loan from LA Galaxy during the winter break, “is in the best possible shape”, according to coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

But they will need all their guile to overcome the obstacle presented by a Stuttgart side who haven’t lost since Markus Babbel took over as coach in November.

“We didn’t manage to beat Bayern in December but I know that we can beat them”, said Babbel, a former team-mate of Klinsmann’s.

The showdown between top-flight sides Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen is the highlight of the remaining seven ties in midweek.

Winter champions Hoffenheim were eliminated in the previous round by Freiberg, who take on fellow second-division outfit Mainz.

Fixtures:

Tuesday (1800GMT unless stated)

Hamburg v 1860 Munich, Carl Zeiss Jena v Schalke 04, Freiberg v Mainz, Stuttgart v Bayern Munich (1930GMT)

Wednesday (1800GMT unless stated)

Bayer Leverkusen v Energie Cottbus, Borussia Dortmund v Werder Bremen, Karlsruhe v Wehen Wiesbaden (1930 GMT), Wolfsburg v Hansa Rostock (1930GMT)

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