Lahm back as Bayern chase lead
Bayern Munich's Germany defender Philipp Lahm has shaken off his ankle injury and is hoping to help fire the German giants to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday. With their main rivals Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen facing tough opposition this weekend, Bayern travel to strugglers Borussia Monchengladbach looking for their sixth straight win with Lahm back in the side.
"I'm ready again, and I guess I'll be playing on Saturday," said Lahm who resumed full training last Friday having damaged his ankle in last month's UEFA Champions League win over Fiorentina. Lahm sat out Sunday's 2-1 win over Schalke which left Bayern third in the table, and the defending champions are now within just a point of leaders Leverkusen.
Under coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Bayern have bolted up from 11th in the table last month and the confidence is flowing, says Lahm, with Germany star Bastian Schweinsteiger also back after a shin injury and French star Franck Ribery having scored in each of the last four games. "Things have improved a lot recently," said Lahm. "We're not conceding goals as often as we were, but there are still a few things we need to do better. Our rivals have spotted we're there or thereabouts again at the top."
Lahm is now keen to play his part in Bayern moving back to the summit in the standings. Bayern will be up against Monchengladbach's teenage midfielder Marko Marin, 19, who is in the Germany squad to face England in Berlin next Wednesday and scored both goals in last week's 2-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld. But Germany striker Oliver Neuville is just one of seven injured Borussia players.
Leverkusen are at home to Schalke 04 on Saturday, who will be looking to bounce back from last week's defeat by Bayern and build on their position of sixth in the league. Bayer missed out on picking up their fifth straight win last weekend when they surrendered their 3-0 lead to a draw at Karlsruhe, and coach Bruno Labbadia has said he wants no repeat this time.
Second-placed Hoffenheim have plenty to celebrate with both defender Marvin Compper and midfielder Tobias Weis called into the Germany team to play England, but they will want three points against Wolfsburg. Hoffenheim will want to bounce back from Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Hertha Berlin, and are hoping the league's top scorer Vedad Ibisevic can add to his 13 goals in 12 games so far this season.
At the other end of the table, Energie Cottbus are already four points off survival at the bottom of the table. But they are at home to Karlsruhe, who picked up only their first point in five games against Leverkusen last weekend.
Having upset Hoffenheim last weekend, Hertha Berlin will be hoping to build on their success when they host Hamburg at the Olympic Stadium. Hertha, however, are waiting on the fitness of striker Marko Pantelic and defender Sofian Chahed.
In the weekend's other games, mid-table Hanover are at home to VfL Bochum on Friday and on Sunday Werder Bremen host Cologne.