Bayern date Leverkusen


BERLIN. — German Bundesliga soccer leaders Bayern Munich head to Bayer Leverkusen today looking for three points to steady the ship again after a turbulent week.

Bayern head to the Rhineland in rude health with an eight-point lead in the table, but there have been plenty of tensions off the field in the last five days. On Monday, football’s worst kept secret was confirmed when coach Pep Guardiola announced he will take charge at Manchester City next season in a three-year deal reported to be worth more than £15 million per year.

Despite chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commenting last Sunday that “there is no quality on the market”, Bayern signed Germany international Serdar Tasci on Monday in a loan deal to cover their dearth of central defenders.

With Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Medhi Benatia all sidelined, Holger Badstuber is their only fully fit centre-back. Unfortunately, Tasci then suffered a concussion in his first training session on Wednesday — 48 hours after signing until June from Spartak Moscow — and will sit out the Leverkusen match.

Then magazine Sport Bild alleged midfielder Arturo Vidal was repeatedly drunk during Bayern’s January training camp in Qatar and both the club and player have said they will take legal action. Bayern’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer says the squad has blanked out the off-field turmoil and are focused solely on Leverkusen.

“The things which they try to stick on the team don’t affect us. I can only repeat that we stick together,” said Neuer. Bayern has only won six of the last 13 games against Leverkusen, a poor return by their lofty standards, and Bayer beat the Bavarians 2-0 last May when last year’s league title was already won. Leverkusen are unbeaten in their last six games, dating back to the start of December, and their ex-Manchester United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is knocking in goals for fun. — AFP.

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