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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 24, 2006

Fragile Bayern face Nuremberg test

BERLIN, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich will be trying to knock Nuremberg off the top of the table when they host their Bavarian rivals in an early-season Bundesliga showdown on Saturday.

The defending champions, who like Nuremberg and Werder Bremen have a maximum six points from two matches, will be eager to bounce back from a 4-0 thrashing suffered in a friendly at Barcelona on Tuesday.

The turbulence surrounding Bayern midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who has been courted by Manchester United, has rattled coach Felix Magath's team.

England midfielder Hargreaves has angered Bayern by saying he wants to join United and comes at a raw time with the 20-time champions struggling to rebuild after losing Michael Ballack to Chelsea.

Bayern, who comfortably led the table for most of last season, only squeaked past promoted Bochum on Sunday 2-1 after beating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in their opening match at home.

Nuremberg have started strongly with a 3-0 win at VfB Stuttgart and a 1-0 victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday.

Magath tried to deflect criticism away from his team for the dreadful showing in Barcelona. He said the absence of Hargreaves and Lucio, both out with the flu, hurt as did his decision to leave Roy Makaay and Roque Santa Cruz on the bench. Magath also did not use Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger at the start, introducing them only after the match had been decided.

'It showed we cannot keep up in international competition if we're missing a few players,' Magath said. 'If anyone should take responsibility, it's me - because of the lineup I put together. We weren't able to hold our own against a top club.'

Bremen, who also have six points from their two matches, kick off the weekend's action when they travel to Gelsenkirchen for a match on Friday night against sixth placed Schalke 04.

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