Robben ready to return to bench
Dutch star Arjen Robben is prepared to return to Bayern Munich’s bench for Sunday’s Bundesliga match at Hoffenheim even though his thunderbolt goal in midweek knocked holders Dortmund out of the German Cup.
Robben’s first-half strike clocked 70mph (115km/h) when it hit the net to give Bayern a 1-0 home win over the holders in the quarterfinal of the German Cup on Wednesday.
It broke Bayern’s six-game winless streak against Dortmund in the league and cup with Robben claiming his third goal in the last four games ahead of Sunday’s trip to south-west Germany to face struggling Hoffenheim.
With France star Franck Ribery now available after his cup suspension, Robben has said he is happy to go back to the bench if coach Jupp Heynckes opts to leave him there for a game that will see Hoffenheim chase a first win over Bayern at the tenth attempt.
“I’m waiting quietly to hear who’ll play, we all depend on the coach –ultimately it’s his decision,” said Robben after training on Thursday.
“The goal was good for me, but it wasn’t just me it helped.
“I feel and know that I am on the right path.
“The situation is complicated, I haven’t just been left on the bench, I had a few injuries last year, which had nothing to do with the quality of my football.”
While Bayern president Uli Hoeness proudly boasted the Bavarians had proved they are “back on top and the best team in Germany” after beating Dortmund, it is now back to business at Hoffenheim.
With Dortmund out, Bayern are firm favourites to lift the German Cup in the final on June 1 and are 17 points clear of the defending champions atop the Bundesliga.
They are also still in the frame to become the first German team to win an historic treble after impressive displays in the Champions League including the 3-1 win at Arsenal in the first leg of their last 16 clash.
While Bayern are chasing their 20th league win from 24 games so far this season, Hoffenheim have just four Bundesliga victories to their credit and lie second from bottom.
Hoffenheim have won only one of their last 13 games while Bayern are on a nine-game winning run.
“Perhaps this is the right time for our team to play this game,” said Hoffenheim general manager Andreas Mueller.
“It’s a good chance to test ourselves against presently the best team in Europe, but three points are still at stake.”
Second-placed Dortmund host Hanover as they prepare to face Shakhtar Donetsk next Tuesday in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, which is level at 2-2 after the first match in Ukraine.
Dortmund have won their last four home games against Hanover and ran out 5-1 winners in December when the teams met at the Signal Iduna Park in the cup.
Borussia are waiting on the fitness of Germany centre-back Mats Hummels, who missed the Bayern defeat with flu, while Hanover, seventh in the table, are waiting on striker Mame Diouf.
The Senegal hot-shot, who has scored 15 goals in 27 matches this season, missed training on Thursday with an ankle problem.
Schalke coach Jens Keller is hoping to secure his first away win in charge of the Royal Blues at Wolfsburg on Saturday as they look ahead to the Champions League last 16 second leg at home to Galatasaray on March 12.
Schalke, who lie ninth, have conceded 13 goals in the Bundesliga so far in 2013 with only Werder Bremen having shipped more.
Wolfsburg, who are just above the bottom three, have not lost any of their last nine games at home to Schalke and Brazil midfielder Diego is sure to test the Royal Blues defence as he is just one short of his 50th Bundesliga goal.
Borussia Dortmund v Hanover 96, VfL Wolfsburg v Schalke 04, Werder Bremen v Augsburg, Nuremberg v Freiburg, Hamburg v Greuther Fuerth, Bayer Leverkusen v VfB Stuttgart (1730)
Hoffenheim v Bayern Munich, Fortuna Duesseldorf v Mainz 05 (1630)