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Bayern's van Gaal looking for redeeming win

sports Updated: Sep 18, 2009 12:27 IST

AFP
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Coach Louis van Gaal says his Bayern Munich side have a chance to redeem their poor start to the season providing they win Saturday's Bundesliga showdown with Bavaria rivals Nuremberg.

Having started the season without a win from their first three games, Bayern have finally hit some form with Bundesliga wins over defending champions Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund as well as a European win at Maccabi Haifa.

Wednesday's 3-0 win at Haifa got their Champions League campaign off to a flying start and Bayern's poor start in the German league - which included a 2-1 defeat at minnows Mainz - could be forgiven if they beat Nuremberg.

"We had a very difficult preparation before the season with limited time and injured players," said the Dutchman who took over on July 1.

"But if we win on Saturday against Nuremberg, we can speak of a good start - but first of all we must win."

Van Gaal is still without a full strength squad as Germany striker Miroslav Klose and French playmaker Franck Ribery are short of match fitness.

Fresh from their victory in Israel on Tuesday, Bayern Munich are looking to close the five-point gap behind leaders Hamburg.

Last week's 5-1 hammering of Dortmund put Bayern up to fifth in the table and the German giants are chasing their third straight win against Nuremberg at Munich's Allianz Arena.

In a side packed with stars like Germany's Mario Gomez, Holland's Arjen Robben and France's Franck Ribery, home-grown striker Thomas Mueller from the southern Bavaria has impressed with four goals in his last two games.

Having scored twice when he came off the bench in Dortmund, the 20-year-old who celebrated his birthday last Sunday, hit two more goals against Maccabi Haifa in Group A of the Champions League.

On Friday night, defending champions Wolfsburg will be looking to break their losing streak when they travel to Gelsenkirchen to play Schalke at the Veltins Arena.

Brazil striker Grafite hit a hat-trick against CSKA Moscow as both he and Wolfsburg made their Champions League debut, but Armin Veh's team need to get back to winning ways after defeats to Leverkusen, Bayern and Hamburg.

The defeats have dropped the champions down to 10th in the table, despite keeping most of the team which won the championship with ease last season.

Leaders Hamburg, who have won their last four games, are at Eintracht Frankfurt who have climbed up to eighth in the table after being undefeated in their last five league games.

For Hamburg, Croatia striker Mladen Petric is in fine form after he produced a wonder goal in the 3-1 win over Stuttgart, while second-placed Bayer Leverkusen are home to Werder Bremen and are level on points with the league leaders.

Stuttgart have a good chance to break their poor run of form having gone four games without a win when they host Cologne on Saturday.

Markus Babbel's side opened their Champions League campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Glasgow Rangers on Wednesday while Cologne are bottom of the table and are the only side in the league without a win to their credit.