FCB host 1.FC Kaiserslautern today at Allianz Arena
Munich, January 21 - Bayern Munich breathed a sigh of relief when Franck Ribéry's injury was not as serious as initially feared. The original diagnosis was for the French diva to miss the next 5-6 weeks of the champions' campaign. The winger is out of Saturday's clash with Kaiserslautern but should be back in training next week. Bayern will be looking to avenge a 2-0 loss in their opening away fixture at the Betzenberg.
All the talk in the winter break was of Arjen Robben's return to the ranks to provide sadly lacking inspiration to the misfiring Bavarians. 'The Flying Dutchman' replaced Ribéry after just 20 minutes of the weekend draw at 2009 champions Wolfsburg - a result which surely extinguished any delusionary title aspirations.
The 1-1 stalemate in Northern Germany was fairly typical of the campaign so far. Bayern felt it was game they should have won comfortably after going ahead early with Thomas Müller charging down an errant goalkeeping clearance. Philipp Lahm had the chance to double the lead but could only hit the post with a penalty. The double-winners failed to finish their opponents off with the Wolves gradually gaining a foothold in the game. FCB's new Number 1, Thomas Kraft, saved a penalty before Steve McLaren's charges fired in a deserved equaliser with just minutes to play.
The Reds remain in 5th spot in the Bundesliga, a distant 16 points behind runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund. FCB possess the best home record in the league so you don't have to be a genius to spot their glaring weakness during this campaign - collecting just two away wins from 9 games with a paltry 10 points on their travels as opposed to champions-elect Dortmund's impressive tally of 27 points.
Bayern have suffered similar away-day let downs this season - playing well early in the piece but failing to push home their dominance with the vital three points. Games at Dortmund, Leverkusen, Moenchengladbach, Kaiserslautern and Schalke all fit this frustrating pattern.
This weekend's visitors Kaiserslautern sit currently in mid-table but would be wise to cast a keen eye on the lower regions of the table. Come the business end of the season there will be a mad scramble to avoid relegation. Top scorer Srdjan Lakic will miss the game through suspension. Any result other than a convincing home win for Bayern would be a surprise. Saturday could see a home debut for Brazilian Luiz Gustavo, a 15 million Euro recruit from Hoffenheim.
The teams that lie ahead of them in the Bundesliga - Hanover, Mainz and Leverkusen - can all easily be reeled in as Bayern play for second spot, barring a catastrophic Dortmund collapse. The prestigious 2012 Champions League final is to be staged in Munich. The Bavarians would be foolish to miss out on qualification to its own party at the Allianz Arena.
The countdown is now on to finally click ahead of their showdown with Inter Milan in the Champions League - five weeks and counting. Bayern's concentration will soon have to be upped a notch to ensure they present their A-Game on February 23. Since firing Rafa Benitez, the Nerazzuri have racked up five straight wins under new Brazilian coach Leonardo. A tough test awaits the Reds in a repeat of last year's final when Inter easily prevailed after a brace from Diego Milito.
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