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Ignore Juve, beat Gladbach demands Bayern boss

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 4 Dec 2009

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Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal has ordered his side to forget next week’s Champions League clash at Juventus and concentrate on closing the gap to Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern must beat Juventus at Turin’s Olympic Stadium next Tuesday to ensure they reach the Champions League knockout stages, but Friday’s German league clash with Borussia Moenchengladbach is far more pressing for van Gaal.

Munich are six points behind Leverkusen and the Dutchman is ordering his side to focus on their next game.

“The mark of a top professional is the ability to concentrate on the next game, which is Gladbach. Juventus has to wait,” said van Gaal on the eve of the Allianz Arena clash.

“The really decisive match is against Moenchengladbach. By the mid-season break, I hope we?re no more than six points behind Leverkusen, and perhaps fewer.”

Van Gaal’s side has climbed to fourth in the table behind Leverkusen, Werder Bremen and Schalke 04.

After Gladbach, who have won just once in 41 league visits to Munich, Bayern play relegation-threatened Bochum away and bottom club Hertha Berlin at home before the winter break starts on December 20.

On current form, Gladbach appear to pose the most serious threat.

Borussia are the team of the moment in the Bundesliga with eleven points from their last five games, including victories in Hamburg and at home to Schalke in their most recent outings.

“They?re on a roll,” acknowledged Van Gaal.

“They?re very well organised, and they defend by closing down space, which is something we?ve always had trouble with. I hope we find the key to unlock their defence and surprise them.”

An important factor will be current strike pairing Mario Gomez and Ivica Olic, scorers of four of Bayern’s last five goals.

“The feeling you should never write Bayern off has returned,” said Gomez.

“You play very different football when you?re confident.”

Dutch winger Arjen Robben will be on the substitutes bench and van Gaal expects to give him around 30 minutes of game time after four weeks out following surgery.

Robben last played a half of football back in early November in a 1-1 draw with Schalke, but has been sidelined by persistent knee problems ever since.

Leaders Leverkusen are waiting on the fitness of ex-Germany defender Manuel Friedrich, who is struggling with a calf strain, ahead of their match at Hanover on Saturday.

“It would be a pity (if he can’t play), he has had an excellent season,” said coach Jupp Heynckes. “We will see how he is closer to the game.”

Third-placed Schalke have Brazilian defender Marcelo Bordon back after suffering from the ‘flu as the Royal Blues prepare to host bottom side Hertha Berlin, who are six points adrift.

Fixures

Friday (1930GMT)

Bayern Munich v Borussia Moenchengladbach

Saturday (1430GMT unless otherwise stated)

VfL Wolfsburg v Freiburg, VfB Stuttgart v VfL Bochum, Hamburg v Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund v Nuremberg, Hanover 96 v Bayer Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt v Mainz 05 (1730GMT)

Sunday

Cologne v Werder Bremen (1430GMT), Schalke 04 v Hertha Berlin (1630GMT)

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SoccerNews

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