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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Ancelotti concedes Bayern have injury concerns ahead of Bundesliga opener

German champions will face Bayer Leverkusen on Friday with manager saying he will decide line up at last minute.

Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti, centre, with Spanish midfielder Juan Bernat who is on crutches. The German champions have injury concerns ahead of the new season. Guenter Schiffmann / AFP
Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti, centre, with Spanish midfielder Juan Bernat who is on crutches. The German champions have injury concerns ahead of the new season. Guenter Schiffmann / AFP

Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti has a lengthy injury list to contend with as his star-studded champions kick off the new Bundesliga season against Bayer Leverkusen on Friday.

Under Ancelotti, Bayern dominated the German league at a canter last season as they went on to clinch a fifth successive title.

They were top of the table for all bar three weeks, when RB Leipzig briefly usurped them last November, before finishing up as winners with a 15-point margin in May.

But 90 days since their last league match, Ancelotti has a different squad, many of whom are struggling for fitness as recent results suggest.

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They lost five of their six pre-season matches before winning the German Super Cup at Dortmund a fortnight ago after a penalty shootout.

Results such as 2-0 defeats against Napoli and Inter Milan, plus a 3-0 reverse against Liverpool and a 4-0 drubbing by AC Milan raised eyebrows in Munich.

Fatigue was a factor against the Milan clubs as Bayern played four games in 12 days on July's tour of China and Singapore.

Ancelotti is missing Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm and midfield general Xabi Alonso, who have both retired, while Brazil winger Douglas Costa has been sold to Juventus.

Ancelotti on Bayern's preparations

Ancelotti is also without playmaker Thiago Alcantara and new signing James Rodriguez, who is on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid, after picking up injuries in pre-season.

Defenders Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez are out with leg knocks.

"We'll see which players will be available on Friday," Ancelotti said.

There is some positive news.

New club captain Manuel Neuer could play, but a decision will only be made on Thursday after the goalkeeper only recently returned after foot surgery.

"Since he is our captain, it would be a bonus," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Luckily for Bayern, their away match at Werder Bremen the following weekend comes just before the international break.

"We'll be able to integrate all our players then," Ancelotti added, but new signings Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy are likely to be with Germany, while record-signing Corentin Tolisso is set to be with France.

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Tolisso, 23, scored or set up 13 goals in 31 French league appearances last term for Lyon.

He is expected to link up with Robert Lewandowski, who will resume his battle with Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, last season's top scorer in Germany's top flight.

Bayern face a new-look Leverkusen team with former Borussia Dortmund forward Heiko Herrlich in charge.

Star striker Javier Hernandez has left for West Ham United, Turkish dead-ball expert Hakan Calhanoglu has joined AC Milan while key defender Omer Toprak now plays for Dortmund.

"The first match is always tough but I think we're ready for the match, and I hope we'll turn in a good display," Ancelotti added.

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