Bundesliga struggler Ingolstadt will take inspiration from the New England Patriot’s stunning Super Bowl fightback when it hosts Bayern Munich on Saturday with the league leader expecting a ‘grubby’ Bavarian derby.
Bayern hosts Arsenal at the Allianz Arena next Wednesday, but before the Champions League last 16 clash, Munich must take care of Bundesliga business and travel 80 kilometres north to its neighbour.
Bayern can expect tough times at Ingolstadt’s tiny Audi Sportpark, which holds 15,000, against the hard-working host -- just like at bottom side Darmstadt in last December’s scrappy 1-0 win after Xabi Alonso’s goal.
"We’ve already seen what it was like at Darmstadt. It will be a grubby game on Saturday," said Bayern’s Germany star Thomas Mueller with Ingolstadt second from bottom.
Arjen Robben says this is the "week of truth" for Bayern’s European aspirations and Ingolstadt hopes Bayern is distracted by the Arsenal clash.
"On paper, it’s obvious how this game will go," said Ingolstadt’s coach Maik walpurgis.
"Anything else would be a surprise, but that is exactly our goal."
Bayern has won all three previous league meetings between the clubs and poached a 2-1 win on its previous visit in May 2016.
But the host hopes for an upset -- inspired by last Sunday’s Super Bowl winners.
The New England Patriots fought back from 21-0 down to beat Atlanta in a fairytale display and Ingolstadt’s assistant coach Michael Henke took heart.
"You can take a lot of motivation from it. The Super Bowl has shown that you have to overcome set-backs and now, like New England, we have to manage a ‘lucky punch’," said Henke.
Bayern will be near full strength, but is reeling from the news club captain Philipp Lahm will be retiring at the of the season, following Tuesday’s announcement, and has refused the vacant sports director role.
Bayern’s Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has scored eight goals in his last seven league games in a tally of 15 for the season.
Ingolstadt hope to have Australia striker Mathew Leckie back from injury, but Israel midfielder Almog Cohen is struggling with a knee knock.
Second-placed RB Leipzig hosts relegation-threatened Hamburg with top-scorer Timo Werner, who has netted 11 goals, set to return after missing last week’s defeat at Borussia Dortmund with flu.
The striker sat out training on Thursday with a leg knock, but should be fit, while Swedish playmaker Emil Forsberg returns after a three-match ban.
Eintracht Frankfurt is at Bayer Leverkusen with coach Nico Kovac’s third-placed side enjoying a remarkable turn out after narrowly avoiding relegation last season and has won its last three games.
Leverkusen, which has lost its last two, is still without ex-Manchester United striker Chicharito, who has a groin injury.
New signing, teenage Jamaican winger Leon Bailey will be hoping to start after making his debut off the bench in last Friday’s 1-0 defeat to Hamburg.
Borussia Dortmund is at bottom side Darmstadt on Saturday with the league’s top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang aiming to add to his tally of 17 goals.
Fourth-placed Dortmund lost its ‘punch’, says coach Thomas Tuchel, after drawing four of its last six league games and needed penalties to beat Hertha Berlin in the German Cup on Wednesday.
"We have good spirit and quality on the pitch, but what we are missing at the moment is a bit of luck, the punch, the will to decide games," said Tuchel.
It will be interesting to see if he plays Germany’s World Cup winner Mario Goetze who was left on the bench for last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leipzig.
Fixtures (All times 2000 IST unless stated):
Mainz v Augsburg (0100); Bayer Leverkusen V E. Frankfurt; Ingolstadt v Bayern Munich; Werder Bremen v Borussia Moenchengladbach; Darmstadt v Borussia Dortmund; RB Leipzig v Hamburg; Schalke v Hertha Berlin (2300)
Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim, Freiburg v Cologne (2200)
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