Niko Kovac is demanding his players capitalise on any slip-ups by the Bundesliga leaders when his Bayern Munich side travel to Eintracht Frankfurt for their final game before the winter break.
Currently in third place, with the top two sides Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach playing each other on Friday evening, Bayern have the opportunity to reduce the gap.
The Bayern head coach said: “If the others make dents in each other, we can catch up quickly.”
Kovac knows the challenge offered by Frankfurt, having managed them until the summer, and will have to face his former side without a number of key players.
Arjen Robben remains unavailable with a hamstring injury, and is joined by James Rodriguez (outer ligament knee tear), Corentin Tolisso (cruciate ligament rupture) and Serge Gnabry (hamstring).
Renato Sanches is also suspended following his red card for a second bookable offence during Bayern’s hard-fought victory over RB Leipzig, but the side could be boosted by the return of Kingsley Coman.
On the opponents, Kovac warned: “Frankfurt are a team who have a lot of pace, defending aggressively while going forward and looking to pounce on mistakes. We have to be prepared for that.”
Captain Manuel Neuer spoke of his respect for the Hesse, saying: “They have played a good first half (of the season). It will be very difficult.”
Frankfurt currently sit fifth in the Bundesliga, five points behind third-placed Bayern, but have scored one more goal than the Bavarian outfit.
Coach Adi Hutter said: “We have to go back to our borders or maybe even beyond to survive against Bayern.
“They are favourites, but we have an outside chance.”
Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp insists the team are up for the game, saying: “We have shown in recent months that we can achieve a lot at home. This is a nice ending just before Christmas, also for the spectators.”
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