Bayern out to avenge only defeat
BERLIN, March 3 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich have been waiting nearly six months to avenge their only league defeat this season and will get the chance to do so on Saturday when they host slumping Hamburg SV.
Hamburg beat Bayern 2-0 in September but the champions have since broken clear at the top of the Bundesliga with 58 points from 23 matches. Werder Bremen are second with 49 points, followed by Hamburg on 47.
Hamburg have struggled of late, losing to VfB Stuttgart 2-0 at home last Sunday, and will be without their captain Daniel van Buyten due to suspension. Hamburg have not won in Munich in 24 years.
'I'm sure everyone will want to prove something and put in a first-class effort,' said Hamburg coach Thomas Doll who has tried to play down internal turmoil surrounding a contract row with striker Sergei Barbarez.
'It's important to focus on the positives and not only listen to those who say everything's going bad.'
Making matters worse for Hamburg is that Bayern midfielder Michael Ballack is on a hot streak in the Bundesliga. With six goals since the winter break, Ballack leads the list of goal scorers in the second half of the season.
Hamburg, who flirted with relegation last season, were the surprise of the first half of the campaign and briefly led the table shortly after beating Bayern.
A German Brewery even gave Hamburg fans 10,000 litres of free beer as a reward.
But Bosnia's Barbarez, who was key to Hamburg's good early run, has been unhappy in recent weeks after Hamburg offered to renew the 34-year-old's contract that runs out after this season, but only on reduced terms.
German media have reported Barbarez has been loudly complaining about the offer to team mates.
'We'll have to think about a few things concerning team spirit,' said Doll. 'In a long season there will always be a few lingering things that are negative...But we're not a team that's wracked by dissent.'
Van Buyten said Sunday's defeat against Stuttgart was a bitter one.
'What happened on the pitch last Sunday showed that we have a lot of problems at the moment,' he said.
The only bright spot was the return of Dutchman Rafael van der Vaart after being sidelined for three months with a foot injury.