Bayern Munich-Stuttgart Preview: Champions looking to finish with a flourish

Pep Guardiola’s side will receive the league trophy after Saturday’s game and will be desperate to end the season on a high after their Champions League humiliation

There should be goodwill in the air when Bayern Munich welcome Stuttgart to close their triumphant Bundesliga campaign.

The visitors’ top-flight status remained in the balance until last weekend, when they suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Wolfsburg.

Ultimately the result proved no great cause for concern as Bayern overcame Stuttgart’s fellow strugglers Hamburg 4-1 to make Huub Stevens’ side safe.

In any case, Stuttgart tend to be well-mannered hosts as far as Bayern are concerned – the Bavarian club have won the past 10 encounters in all competitions.

Bayern will be formally presented with the Bundesliga trophy after Saturday’s game, six weeks on from securing the title in record-breaking time.

Nevertheless, any feel-good factor around the Allianz Arena has all but disappeared during the interim – largely due to Real Madrid’s emphatic 5-0 aggregate Champions League semi-final victory that ended Bayern’s defence of their European crown in humiliating fashion.

The manner of those losses has brought growing rumours of discontent regarding the methods of coach Pep Guardiola. For his part, the former Barca boss insists that he will stay faithful to the ‘tiki-taka’ style that he pioneered during four phenomenally successful years at Camp Nou, and captain Philipp Lahm launched a defence of his coach this week.

“With Pep Guardiola, we showed throughout two-thirds of the season that we could have our own style of play that is very effective, precise and dangerous in attack, and, yes, like Barcelona, have lots of possession of the ball,” the versatile defender told Sport Bild.

“And that’s the style we’re going to continue working on. [We have] controlled and beaten great teams like Manchester City, Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea.”

On the field, Bayern will be without Jerome Boateng after the defender received a red card for an altercation with Hamburg’s Kerem Demirbay, while Mario Mandzukic will look to become the Bundesliga’s top scorer for 2013-14.

The Croatia international is locked on 18 goals with Borussia Dortmund forward and future team-mate Robert Lewandowski. The duo will also square off in next weekend’s DFB-Pokal final.

At the end of a disappointing campaign, Stevens might allow himself a wry smile when reflecting on the apparent internal strife at Bayern over a potential double-winning season.

Meanwhile, Stuttgart began their plans for next term this week by securing the signing of Red Bull Salzburg right-back Florian Klein on a free transfer. The 27-year-old Austria international has agreed a deal running until July 2017.

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