Mario Mandzukic has been recalled to the Bayern Munich matchday squad for the Bundesliga leaders' visit to Stuttgart on Wednesday.
Mandzukic, 27, was axed for last Friday’s victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach, with Bayern coach Pep Guardiola later explaining the move was due to the Croatia striker’s lack of effort during training.
The Mandzukic exclusion, in a media landscape searching for Bayern angles other than the same old “Bayern rushing from record to record,” made the headlines in Germany. Some experts have compared Mandzukic’s fate to that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic under Guardiola at Barcelona -- with many feeling the clock is ticking on the former Wolfsburg man’s time in Bavaria.
And ahead of his side’s trip to Stuttgart, Guardiola told a news conference that he is prepared to drop players because Bayern possess enough depth of quality.
“I’ll have to wait for the final training session, and then I’ll decide. We have got a big squad, and every week one or two super, super players might not make the squad,” Guardiola said, adding that Mandzukic had trained “okay” in the past few days.
Guardiola was bombarded with questions on Mandzukic from reporters and appeared visibly irked by the stream, remarking: “That’s the third question about Mandzu. You all know my decision, my opinion. Sometimes I need those players, sometimes I need other players.”
Later on Tuesday, Bayern Munich took to Twitter to reveal that Mandzukic will be part of the Bayern squad at Stuttgart, but Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben will both sit out with muscle problems.
The team are on their way to Stuttgart. Mandzukić makes the trip, but Ribéry and Robben (both muscle problems) are staying in Munich #VFBFCB— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) January 28, 2014
Bayern Munich lead Bundesliga by 10 points, and could extend the gap over Bayer Leverkusen to 13 on Wednesday. Stuttgart sit in 12th place but only hold a three point lead over Hamburg, who currently occupy the relegation playoff position.