Guardiola: Dangerous start for Bayern
Pep Guardiola has warned that Bayern Munich face a "very difficult and dangerous" start to the Bundesliga season as injury concerns threaten to overshadow their curtain-raiser against Wolfsburg on Friday night.
Ever since the 2002-03 campaign, the defending Bundesliga champions open the season with a home match on Friday night -- and no title holder has ever lost this match.
This year, Bayern -- who stormed to the title with a 19 point-cushion last season -- entertain Wolfsburg at the Allianz Arena, a side they have beaten 16 times and drawn just once against in 17 home fixtures.
But Pep Guardiola's side go into the campaign on the back of a difficult preseason which has not only seen them defeated by the MLS All-Stars and Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup but also lose Javi Martinez to an anterior cruciate ligament tear against BVB.
Bayern's six German World Cup winners -- plus Netherlands winger Arjen Robben and Brazil centre-back Dante -- began their preseason training in early August, and some of them are currently still playing catch-up.
The Catalan coach has asked for patience in the wake of the current injury and fitness crisis as he prepares for Friday's game without Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery, Thiago Alcantara, Rafinha and the suspended Jerome Boateng.
"Playing one of the best teams in the league when you're in our situation isn't easy," he told reporters on Thursday. "The solution is to run hard and simply play our football. Winning the first match would be very important for our confidence.
"I believe the next one or two months will be very, very difficult and dangerous. We need to be in a good position when we get to the winter break."
However, Guardiola confirmed that Robben could be in contention despite a lack of match fitness, saying: "Arjen is fit, but he has not played a minute of football. Yet he is an outstanding professional. The best I have seen in my career."
Die Roten are targeting their third consecutive Bundesliga title, and Guardiola is hungry to collect his second title in two seasons. "The Bundesliga is the most expensive title. The Champions League is the most beautiful lady, but I want the Bundesliga," he added.