Saturday 16 December 2017

Ribery in fitness race

Franck Ribery is fighting a race against the clock to be fit to play for Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Fiorentina in Florence tonight, WRITES PAUL VIRGO.

"Franck has a slight problem," confirmed Bayern coach Louis van Gaal, whose team carry over a 2-1 advantage from the first leg.

Ribery did not start for the Bundesliga leaders against Cologne last Saturday because of the problem, coming on in the last third of the 1-1 draw.

Arjen Robben should be available after missing the Cologne match with flu. Bayern's biggest injury problems are in defence.

Martin Demichelis is out after suffering facial fractures playing for Argentina in last week's 1-0 win over Germany.

Diego Contento cannot play either because of a cut knee, which means 17-year-old Austrian midfielder David Alaba may be used in the backline.

But Van Gaal (below) is not spooked by these problems for the clash against an off-form Serie A outfit, with his side sure of reaching the quarter-finals if they extend their 18-match unbeaten run.

"Naturally, it (the situation in defence) is a disadvantage," he said.

"But, in training the players play in different positions and they know them, so I'm not afraid if there are other players on the field instead of Demichelis and Contento.

"During the course of the season, I've shown faith in six young players. If they didn't have the right qualities, they wouldn't play."

Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli, whose side have lost seven of their last 10 games in all competitions, wants the team to put behind them any rancour at the run of bad luck with refereeing decisions that started in the first leg, which Bayern won thanks to a late Miroslav Klose goal scored from an offside position.

"We shouldn't feel victims of the refereeing errors that, obviously, have penalised us," he said.

"It would be an own goal. If we let ourselves be conditioned by these errors, it would mean we are not mature."

Fiorentina midfielder Massimo Gobbi is suspended after his red card in the first leg.

They are also without much-missed striker Adrian Mutu, who has been provisionally suspended after failing two drugs tests in January.

Fiorentina v Bayern Munich, live Sky Sports 3, Setanta Ire, 7.45

Irish Independent

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