Guardiola shows strain as Bayern head to Stuttgart
06 February 2015, 13:10
Berlin - Pep Guardiola is showing signs of feeling the pressure as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich hunt their first win of the year at strugglers VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.
Bayern have failed to impress so far in 2015 in their two matches since returning from the Bundesliga's winter break with an 11-point lead.
Their shock 4-1 thrashing at second-placed Wolfsburg last Friday was followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Schalke on Tuesday after playing for 70 minutes with ten men.
The usually calm and composed Bayern coach sprinted 45 metres to remonstrate with the assistant referee after a Robert Lewandowski goal was disallowed in the 66th minute against Schalke.
"It was an emotional thing to do. I just spoke to him. It was very, very nice," said Guardiola tongue-in-cheek after the heated confrontation.
But despite his brush-off remark, Guardiola needs an impressive display from Bayern to sooth any jarred nerves after the Wolfsburg defeat.
Having steamrollered their domestic rivals before Christmas, Bayern were rattled in Wolfsburg and allowed Schalke to equalise, albeit with a numerical disadvantage following Jerome Boateng's dismissal.
The Germany defender is banned for the next three games and misses the Stuttgart trip, plus home matches against Hamburg and away to Paderborn
Stuttgart present the ideal chance to get back on track as Huub Stevens side are third from bottom after winning just one of their nine home games this season.
Arjen Robben headed Bayern into the lead at the Allianz Arena before Schalke equalised and the Dutch star says they can ill afford similar performances as they bid for silverware.
"Of course, we played with ten men for most of the match, but when you let them equalise, conceding a goal like that can be deadly in the Champions League," said the 31-year-old.
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Second-placed VfL Wolfsburg are set to give Andre Schuerrle his debut at home to Hoffenheim after signing the Germany winger from Chelsea on Monday to end his 19-month sojourn in London.
Wolves needed a late Kevin de Bruyne goal to scrape a point in their 1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday after their shock win over Bayern. China's Zhang Xizhe is waiting for his debut.
Hertha Berlin are at Mainz 05 on Saturday with the capital city club second from bottom and with former player Pal Dardai and ex-assistant coach Rainer Widmayer now in charge.
On Thursday, ex-coach Jos Luhukay became the fifth Bundesliga coach to be sacked this season after Wednesday's 1-0 loss at home to Bayer Leverkusen meant three defeats in three games.
The Berlin club are battling to avoid their third relegation since 2010.
Mainz will have striker Shinji Okazaki back in the side for the first time since his return from the Asian Cup where Japan reached the quarter-finals.
Ahead of their trip to face Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund's coach Jurgen Klopp has insisted he will not resign with his side bottom of the table as they bid to avoid a first relegation since 1976.
Dortmund will be without Kevin Grosskreutz at Freiburg and the Germany midfielder misses the next six weeks with a torn thigh muscle.
He joins Ilkay Gundogan, Erik Durm and Lukasz Piszczek on Borussia's injury list.
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Roberto di Matteo's Schalke 04, who are sixth, have the chance to climb further up the table when they host third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach.
"They are a direct competitor for a Champions League place and if we play as well as we did at Bayern, we will make Friday count," said Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Schalke 04 v Bor. Moenchengladbach (1930)
Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim, Mainz 05 v Hertha Berlin, Freiburg v Borussia Dortmund, VfB Stuttgart v Bayern Munich, Cologne v Paderborn, Hamburg v Hanover (1730)
Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen, Augsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt (1630)