Bayern up for sniff of Eau de Cologne

Robben leads the Bayern attackMunich, February 5 - Saturday sees Bayern München face a tricky trip to lowly Cologne, where they will look to consolidate their Champions League qualification place.

The Bavarians have risen to third spot in the Bundesliga on the back of an impressive run of just one defeat in 13 league games. However, the champions still languish FOURTEEN points behind runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund.  Just fourteen games remain to be played.

Bayern will renew acquaintances with two familiar faces on the Rhein: Michael Rensing and Lukas Podolski.

Keeper Rensing (26) failed to fill the giant boots of Oliver Kahn and ultimately lost his starting jersey to veteran Hans-Jörg Butt.  He vanished off the radar until turning up after the winter break in Cologne where his impressive shot-stopping has helped the Billy Goats off the bottom of the table.

The former Bayern keeper joins forces with Podolski, who also failed to hit the heights at "FC Hollywood" in stark contrast to his outstanding form with the German national side. The Polish-born striker was always playing second fiddle to the likes of Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose during his time in Bavaria.

Arjen Robben is struggling to shake off a heavy cold and his fitness will be assessed nearer the game. Robben has made a positive impact on the pitch since his long-awaited return from injury. Despite another match-winning performance in Bremen last weekend, the 'Flying Dutchman' hit the headlines for the wrong reasons - grabbing teammate Thomas Müller by the throat at the final whistle.

Robben insisted that Müller had annoyed him during the game by gesticulating towards him, particularly after one of his wasted free-kicks.

"Thomas was probably taken by surprise. I am an emotional player, but I have got to be able to control myself. We are role models."  

However, the squabbling pair seem to have settled their differences.

"I spoke to Thomas after the game and again on Sunday and the issue has been resolved," Robben added. "We are friends again and did not need many words to clear the air."

Enfant terrible Franck Ribéry is likely to return to the squad after another spell on the sidelines.   The Bayern bosses have also denied that a EUR 50 million buy-out clause exists in the French diva's contract.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and recent signing Luiz Gustavo are walking the tightrope, both only one booking away from suspension.

Meanwhile, Philipp Lahm has replaced Mark van Bommel as skipper following the Dutch midfielder's departure to AC Milan in the January transfer window.

The Reds travel to the RheinEnergieStadion looking for their first win in five against Cologne. The game earlier in the season at the Allianz Arena ended in stalemate, a drab 0-0 bore-draw.


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