Midfielders Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribery will not be available for Bayern Munich as the champions play their first Bundesliga game since mid-December at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday.
German network Sport1 reported that the injured trio are all sidelined as Bayern, who lead the table by seven points and have a game in hand because of their involvement in December’s Club World Cup, face a tough test at Borussia Park.
The Foals have won eight and drawn one of their nine home games this season, and want to become the first team to beat Bayern in the league since Bayer Leverkusen won 2-1 at the Allianz Arena in October 2012.
On Thursday, Pep Guardiola told a news conference: “During our training camp in Qatar, I always heard that everything is perfect at Bayern. But we return to Germany and suddenly -- injuries, injuries, injuries.”
The absence of Martinez and Schweinsteiger is likely to mean that Bayern captain Philipp Lahm will play in holding midfield, a position in which he frequently played during the first half of the season.
In an interview with German broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Lahm said the first couple of games after the inter break would be important for Bayern.
“We want to make it clear right from the start, so that our chasers know this -- you can’t get anything from Bayern this year,” he told the paper.
But despite Bayern’s 14 wins and two draws during the Hinrunde (first half of the season), Lahm warned his teammates that nothing was won yet.
“We have not always been commanding. During the first half, we had a few shaky games with sudden phases of weakness. We have to get rid of those phases,” Lahm said.
Bayern midfielder Thomas Mueller echoed Lahm’s words, telling Bild: “The first couple of games of the Rueckrunde [second half of the campaign] are decisive. When we are able to show that we are indeed there, our competitors will write off the title.”