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50-50 Challenge: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

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By ESPN Staff
Jan 21, 2010

Franck Ribery returns as Bayern face Bremen

Bayern Munich, who have won seven straight matches in all competitions, should become even more lethal with the return of playmaker Franck Ribery against Werder Bremen on Saturday (1430 GMT).

The Frenchman is set to be in the squad for the first time in three months, after overcoming a knee injury that kept him out until the winter break and a toe infection that further delayed his return to action. He is not expected to play the full 90 minutes.

"Ribery is a world-class player and I believe we will now become even more dangerous," said team mate and winger Arjen Robben whose explosive pace has helped them move up to third place, two points adrift of league leaders Bayer Leverkusen. Undefeated Leverkusen travel to Hoffenheim on Sunday (1630).

Ribery, linked again with a possible move to Real Madrid in the summer, had also missed the start of the season through injuries.

"Franck can decide a game by himself and always pulls several players on him," defender Philipp Lahm told reporters on Wednesday. "He just lifts the team to a whole new level."

Bayern, who have won their last five league matches and also advanced to the knockout stage of the Champions League, must expect the unexpected in Bremen, with the mercurial hosts looking for their first win since late November.

Bremen are sixth, ten points off the top, after their third straight league loss against Eintracht Frankfurt last week.

Second-placed Schalke 04, a point ahead of Bayern on 37, travel to lowly VfL Bochum (1430) on Saturday on the back of their four-match winning streak and new-found enthusiasm under coach Felix Magath.

"We must now raise our game even further," said Schalke top striker Kevin Kuranyi, who last week refused to move to Sunderland as his cash-strapped club looks to cut costs.

"We have to come out even more confident now. As for myself, I have taken my decision and it will not change. I only think about Schalke now," he said.

Hertha Berlin, buoyed by their second win of the season last week, host Borussia Moenchengladbach (1430) as they battle to lift themselves off the bottom.

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