Klinsmann: We can pull through

Bayern Munich coach Jurgen Klinsmann has backed the defending Bundesliga champions to recover from their worst start to the season in 31 years, starting with their game against Karlsruhe on Saturday.

Having led the league from start to finish last season, Bayern are currently enduring their worst start for three decades, having lost 1-0 at Hanover and been hammered 5-2 in Munich by Werder Bremen at the end of last month. And to make matters worse, minnows VfL Bochum poached a 3-3 draw a fortnight ago with two goals in the last ten minutes, which left Bayern 11th in the table.

Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has given Klinsmann a guarantee he will still be in office at the end of the season, and the ex-Germany boss insists Bayern are on the right track. "We are going in the right direction, we just need consistency," Klinsmann told German magazine Kicker. "We will pull through this. You have to take an episode like this on the chin."

With nine points from seven games, Bayern need to pick up a few more wins before fans' cries of "Klinsmann Out!" are silenced around the Allianz Arena, and a win at Karlsruhe would help. With all his stars back from their FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers, Klinsmann will have a virtually full-strngth side to choose from with only long-term injury victims Willy Sagnol, Christian Lell and Hamit Altintop missing.

Summit clash
The biggest game of the weekend pits league leaders Hamburg at home to fifth-placed Schalke 04 on Sunday. Schalke are waiting on the fitness of Germany defender Christian Pander and will have striker Kevin Kuranyi leading the attack after he walked out on the Germany squad last weekend. Under new boss Martin Jol, Hamburg are playing an attacking brand of football and start the weekend three points clear at the top of the table.

Second-placed Hoffenheim are at mid-table Hanover on Saturday with the league's top-scorer Vedad Ibisevic leading the attack, but they conceded five goals in their last game away when they went down 5-4 at Werder Bremen. Also on Saturday, third-placed Stuttgart are in the German capital when they play Hertha Berlin.

With one eye on next Wednesday's UEFA Champions League game against Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen host Borussia Dortmund, and it remains to be seen whether coach Thomas Schaaf will rest his key players.

Having been beaten 1-0 by Hertha last time out, fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen are at second-from-bottom Eintracht Frankfurt, with goalkeeper Rene Adler back fresh from making his Germany debut. Bayer coach Bruno Labbadia is waiting on the fitness of key players Arturo Vidal and Tranquillo Barnetta.

Bottom of the table Borussia Moenchegladbach are at VfL Bochum on Friday, while fellow strugglers Energie Cottbus visit mid-table Cologne on Saturday.