By Michael Kahn
PRAGUE (Reuters) - An in-form Bayern Munich will be looking to notch up their fourth straight win in the Champions League group stage and seal a spot in the final 16 when the Bundesliga champions face Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday.
Title holders Bayern will, though, have to manage without Dutch winger Arjen Robben who stayed behind on Monday, nursing a groin injury.
The German side, who have ridden Franck Ribery's hot start to the season, have scored 11 goals and conceded only one in their three Group D games to stay three points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table.
Coach Pep Guardiola had Spain international Javi Martinez and German midfielder Mario Goetze back in the starting lineup for the first time in months after the pair's long injury breaks when they equaled a 30-year-old Bundesliga record with their 36th game without defeat since October 2012.
Bayern were by no means dominant in their 2-1 win against Hoffenheim on Saturday but they controlled the pace and have yet to lose a game this season in any of the three competitions they are in.
Central defender Dante was also back after a two-week injury break.
"It certainly was not one of our best performances," Guardiola said. "Not everything worked well and we need to correct that."
Goetze, who joined Bayern in a 37-million-euro transfer from Borussia Dortmund, said his team had to work harder.
"We have the occasional situation where we play really well and cannot score," said Goetze. "We need to push more but the team is really good at coming back and that is important."
In their previous meeting, Bayern ran rampant with Ribery leading the way with two goals in a 5-0 mauling of the Czech champions.
A fourth win on the trot in the Champions League group play, combined with a Manchester City victory over CSKA Moscow, would send Bayern into the round of 16.
They face a Plzen side who have not yet taken a point in Champions League play and have had an uneven start to their domestic league season.
Plzen have suffered numerous defensive break-downs this season, costing them points, and the team managed only one win during the month of October.
The Czech holders seemed to reverse their fortunes over the weekend with a 6-1 drubbing of Jablonec but face a far tougher task against an intimidating Bayern side.
"Were we in a crisis?" Czech manager Pavel Vrba said after the Jablonec game. "I did not feel anything like that in the locker-room and I'm glad we cruised through the match in such a way."
(Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by Amalan Chakraborty and Clare Fallon)
- Sports & Recreation
- Bayern Munich
- Viktoria Plzen
- Franck Ribery
- Pep Guardiola
- Mario Goetze
- Arjen Robben