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Preview: FC Bayern vs. St. Pauli

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After last week’s convincing victory over Schalke and a week full of frantic transfer rumors, it’s easy to forget that FC Bayern is only one bad day away from being out of Champions League play next year. Bayern travels to Hamburg tomorrow to do battle with lowly St. Pauli in a match that we can’t afford to lose. Given our current position in the standings (third place, two points ahead of Hannover, huge advantage on goal differential), we could conceivably afford to draw this game and still remain in the third and final CL spot. But with St. Pauli having the worst record in the league and a more difficult match against VfB Stuttgart looming next weekend, interim coach Andries Jonker should be excepting nothing less than a victory. Chairman Rummy agrees, according to ESPN, cautioning the club to "not take relegation-threatened St. Pauli lightly."

THE LINE-UP

Goal.com reports that Gustavo is going to come on at CB for Badstuber.  I’m a little dubious as to that one … Holger is probably the best option that we have on that left CB role, and figures to start next year in conjunction with whatever other CB we bring in.  I can’t see how benching him right now would solve anything, unless Jonker feels really nervous about having him back there.  I’m going to chalk this up to more blowing smoke from goal.com, and predict the back four will remain the same - Lahm-DvB-Badstuber-Contento (from right to left).

The front 4 will surely stay the same, with Gomez up top, Müller fitting in behind him, and Ribery and Robben on either side.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kroos get in some time, and a little earlier then last week (when I think he came in with less than 10 minutes left). 

THE OPPONENT

As mentioned above, St. Pauli has to worst record in the Bundesliga, and is likely headed for relegation.  But they’ve scored 20 of their total 33 goals at home, and they may get an especially big boost from their home crowd with long-time coach Holger Stanislawkisi managing his final game.  The Pirates need a win to have any chance at staving off relegation, so expect a wide-open match with plenty of chances. 

No one on St. Pauli’s roster looks especially frightening, but if there were one guy to keep an eye on, it would be Ghanian forward Gerald Asamoah, who leads the squad with 6 goals and 6 assists.  At first I thought he was related to Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan (also Ghanian, somewhat close in age), but apparently not.

ODDS AND ENDS

- The match will stream live on ESPN 3, for those of us in the states.  Gol TV will be running the Werder B vs. Dortmund match.  I’m a little annoyed at that - it generally makes sense to show the #1 team in the league when you get a chance, but everyone know Dortmund is going to win the title.  Why not show a game with something more on the line?

- Weather underground calls for mostly clear skies with pretty warm temperatures.

- Finally, new rumors would have us giving up Gustavo in a deal to bring Neuer to Bayern.  Apparently the deal with be Gustavo + 19 million Euro. 

We’re going to be updating news on this and other transfer talk on our twitter feed, so subscribe to http://twitter.com/bayern_offside if you’re interested.  Thanks for reading.