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By ESPN Staff

Bayern offer free beer to suffering fans

Fans of Bayern Munich, who have made their worst start to the Bundesliga for 43 seasons, will get a chance to drown sorrows before Saturday's home match with champions VfL Wolfsburg.

The Bavarian club are to give away more than 7,000 litres of beer before the game as part of a sponsorship deal with a Munich-based brewery. The same deal also saw the players and coach Louis van Gaal dress up in traditional Bavarian costume, including lederhosen, for a photo shoot this week.

Van Gaal was photographed grinning as he held up a half-litre of beer but the former Barcelona and Netherlands coach has had little else to smile about at his new club.

Bayern have taken only two points from three Bundesliga games and are languishing in 14th place after Saturday's 2-1 defeat by promoted Mainz 05. The Bavarians are desperate for Franck Ribery to play against Wolfsburg, the Frenchman having returned to training on Monday after a knee injury kept him out for around two weeks.

"We knew it could be a bumpy start, and it has been," said German international Philipp Lahm, adding the players were still getting used to Dutchman Van Gaal's system. "A lot of what he does is tactical. He has a clear vision of how he wants each position to be played. That's a massive change for each and every one of us because it's not been like that here in recent years."

Former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn has already voiced his displeasure in an interview with the Bild newspaper.

"I have a feeling the old dominance, self-belief and the idea everyone fights together have gone missing," he said. "Bayern have always had a clear philosophy, even if we are not the strongest in individual terms the team must always be the strongest. I must ask myself if every player has this desire for success."

Wolfsburg won their opening two games before losing 4-2 to Hamburg SV on Sunday, their first home defeat in nearly 18 months.

Hamburg, touted as possible title contenders, were inspired by 35-year-old Brazilian midfielder Ze Roberto, a player Bayern let go at the end of last season. Hamburg, at home to Cologne on Sunday, are one of three clubs who have taken seven points from three games along with Schalke 04 and leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Leverkusen host VfL Bochum on Saturday while Schalke are at home to bottom team Freiburg.

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