Bayern with a lot to prove after winter break
BERLIN, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich have a lot to prove when they return to action in the German Cup away to third division Wuppertaler SV on Tuesday, after a six-week break marked by uncertainty and distraction.
Bayern limped through to the end of the first half of the domestic season, with two goalless draws just doing enough to keep them top of the Bundesliga, ahead of Werder Bremen on goal difference.
Their final match of 2007, a 6-0 win over Aris Salonika in the UEFA Cup, kept alive their hopes of a treble and reminded fans of what they had been missing in goals and excitement.
The long mid-season break has proved even more action packed and the players will have a lot to put out of their minds in two away games this week, against Wuppertal in the last 16 of the Cup and away to Hansa Rostock in the league on Friday.
On Jan. 2 coach Ottmar Hitzfeld announced he would be stepping down at the end of the season.
Bayern then shocked everyone by announcing that Juergen Klinsmann would be coming out of his Californian semi-retirement to take over from July 1.
Meanwhile, transfer dealings behind the scenes have brought in Brazilian teenager Breno and also Tim Borowski, who signed up to join them from Bremen next term.
The club finally confirmed last week that striker Lukas Podolski would not be leaving but nothing can stop speculation about Hitzfeld's future, with the 59-year-old coach eyeing up the Swiss national team job after Euro 2008.
It has been a breathless few weeks and the players looked far from rested and relaxed when they were held to a 1-1 draw by TSV 1860 Munich in a friendly derby on Saturday.
'The performance was fine,' Hitzfeld told reporters ahead of the game against Wuppertal, who knocked out Hertha Berlin to reach the last 16. 'We're on the right track.'
Bayern's chief rivals on the domestic front are Werder, who face a much trickier return to action away to Borussia Dortmund in another of Tuesday's games.
Captain Torsten Frings recently suffered yet another knee injury and will certainly miss the game.
Werder, in fact, have two teams in the last 16. Their amateur side can look forward to a home clash with Bundesliga champions and last year's Cup runners-up, VfB Stuttgart in one of four matches on Wednesday.