Bayern Munich's Guardiola demanded to keep stars happy

AFP , Thursday 29 Jan 2015

Bayern Munich resume their Bundesliga campaign at second-placed Wolfsburg on Friday having been warned to keep their star-studded squad happy in order to maintain their iron-grip on the German league.

Bayern have an 11-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table and are set to break last season's record when they claimed the title with seven games to spare.

Their gifted squad was trimmed over the January winter break as Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri signed for Inter Milan and Danish teenager Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg joined Augsburg on loan.

But competition for places in Pep Guardiola's Bayern squad remains intense with ex-coach Ottmar Hitzfeld warning there is a "risk of explosion" from any potentially disgruntled stars.

"Not every player accepts the decision to leave them on the bench," Hitzfeld, who coached Bayern in two different spells, told German magazine Sport Bild.

"It gets dangerous in the second half of the season -- that's when those who sat on the bench without complaining now start to grumble.

"That's when there's a risk of someone exploding."

Guardiola has the unenviable task of trying to give all his stars game time, but is relaxed on the matter with Bayern set to face Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League's last 16 next month.

"All the players in our squad can play together, there is no problem" said Guardiola.

With a mid-week round of Bundesliga matches to follow after this weekend, Bayern face Wolfsburg, Schalke 04 and VfB Stuttgart in a busy seven-day period.

Midfield star Bastian Schweinsteiger is now fully fit and the Germany captain is set to claim a defensive midfield berth alongside Spain's Xabi Alonso.

Schweinsteiger, 30, has a contract until June 2016, but says he is under no pressure to extend.

"I have no pressure," he told Sport1.

"Bayern and I know each other very well. I feel very good and I aim to play for three or four years at the highest level."

Guardiola, who led Bayern to the German league and cup double in his first season last year, is also under contract until 2016.

Schweinsteiger wants the Spaniard to stay and Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insists they plan to persuade their star coach.

"There is only one Plan A and that's called 'Guardiola'," he told Kicker.

"When him and his family feel good, he'll stay.

"If not, then we'll have to deal with that calmly."

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