Pep’s Bayern wary of Viktoria Pilsen

Champions keen to overcome their recent ‘first-half’ problems

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 23 Oct 2013, 12:37 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:52 AM

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola gestures during a training session on Tuesday. — AP

Dutch winger Arjen Robben has insisted under-firing Bayern Munich must prove their mettle as European champions against Czech side Viktoria Pilsen in the Champions League on Wednesday.

After convincing wins at home to CSKA Moscow and away to Manchester City, Bayern are top of Group D ahead of the visit of Czech champions Pilsen.

While Bayern have had no problems producing stylish performances against perceived big name clubs, they have struggled on occasion in the Bundesliga this season against low-ranking sides.

Despite running out 4-1 winners at home to Mainz 05 on Saturday, Bayern were punished for a lethargic first-half when they went into the break behind before scoring four goals without replay.

Robben says Munich can ill afford a repeat against Pilsen, who have lost both of their opening matches in Europe and are bottom of the group.

“They won’t be coming here just to hand us the victory,” warned Robben.

“We’ll have to be up for it from the start.”

Having drubbed Moscow 3-0 in Munich and City 3-1 in Manchester, Bayern have laboured in the Bundesliga with a 1-1 draw at second-from-bottom Freiburg and posted below-par 1-0 wins over Wolfsburg and Frankfurt.

Bayern have fallen into the habit of turning on the style for an impressive victory after a poor first-half on occasion and it is something coach Pep Guardiola wants to change.

“We need to find out why this is,” said Guardiola, who refused to blame the first-half performance against Mainz on the international break. “I want to see improvement very soon.

“I don’t want the fans to think it’s only worth turning up to the stadium for the second half.”

Bayern will be without Brazil centre-back Dante, after he needed 10 stitches in an ankle wound in the first-half against Mainz, while France winger Franck Ribery should be fit despite suffering an ankle injury last week.

Pilsen trail Sparta Prague by six points in the Czech league after winning only one of the last four league games.

On Saturday, they drew 1-1 at home with Slavia Prague who were sitting last in the table and coach Pavel Vrba has said a similar performance against Bayern would be a “disaster”.

“We keep making the same mistakes, this concerns two or three players in the backline,” he said. “If we don’t improve our defence, the Bayern game will be a disaster, they would punish our mistakes badly.” Vrba is being touted as a future coach of the Czech national side after they failed to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.

The 49-year-old has a contract at Pilsen until 2015 and despite pressure to let Vrba step up to coach the Czech Republic, his club is reluctant to let him go after the won the national league at a canter last season.

Pilsen will miss injured left-back David Limbersky, out with a torn hamstring, while ex-Hertha Berlin defender Roman Hubnik may be called up to boost the wobbly defence.

Having lost 3-0 at home to Manchester City and 3-2 away to CSKA Moscow, a third straight defeat would effectively end the Czech champions chance of reaching the knock-out phase.

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