Pep Guardiola has confirmed he only has 14 players to choose from when Bayern Munich take on Manchester United during their crucial Champions League quarter-final second-leg tie on Wednesday.
The boss' squad woes were highlighted via the German club's official Twitter feed:
A mixture of injuries and suspensions keeps things interesting heading into the Allianz Arena contest. Bastian Schweinsteiger is the most notable Bayern absentee from the second leg, a result of his red card during the first match.
Although Wayne Rooney was accused of diving to land the German midfielder his second yellow, the English forward suggested he leaped over the challenge to avoid getting hurt, reported by Jamie Jackson of The Guardian:
It could have gone either way. He could have hurt me, he's gone in with his studs and the referee has booked him, so it's not my decision. It's not nice to see anyone sent off and I didn't try to get him sent off. The referee has made a decision. I've tried to stop myself getting hurt and the referee has had a decision to make.
As it turns out, Rooney could also be out of the crunch tie after picking up a toe injury prior to the match. David Maddock of the Mirror suggests the former Everton striker will play through the pain, as David Moyes also faces the prospect of a depleted squad.
Upon news that both Rooney and Ryan Giggs are training, provided by Mark Ogden of The Telegraph, former United right-back Gary Neville made a light-hearted joke out of Bayern's situation:
Juan Mata is unavailable due to being cup-tied, while Robin van Persie remains on the sideline through injury. United have grown used to the latter's non-appearance in recent matches, settling into a smart passing rhythm with Mata and Shinji Kagawa interlinking behind the main striker.
Sky Sports' Fraser Dainton also reported Marouane Fellaini and Rafael failed to appear at the pre-match training session:
While Guardiola will be pleased to see the back of these players, Javi Martinez's suspension ensures he can't push his fellow Spaniard forward to replace Scwheinsteiger. Martinez was undoubtedly the weak link in his centre-back role at Old Trafford, so it may be a blessing in disguise for the German champions.
Thiago Alcantara, who was widely linked with a move to United during the summer, was also ruled out for up to eight weeks after injuring his knee at the end of March, reported by the Bundesliga's official site. Guardiola was quoted as saying "we will miss him badly," shortly after the extent of his problem was confirmed.
Transfermarkt also confirms winger Xherdan Shaqiri, defender Diego Contento and goalkeeper Tom Starke suffered injuries within the last two weeks. They join Holger Badstuber on the recovery table, although Bayern's forgotten man has been absent with a cruciate ligament rupture since December 2012.
Both teams know they are in for a real challenge. Bayern are laced with expectation and the knowledge they should comfortably brush United aside, while the visitors know they can upset Guardiola's men with a repeat of the first leg's 1-1 scoreline.
Despite a plethora of missing players across the board, this tie is sure to be a tactical battle that is likely to be won via an individual moment of brilliance.
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