High-flying Bayern Munich keen to stay grounded


BERLIN (AP) -With confidence booming from its Champions League exploits and with Bundesliga rivals faltering, Bayern Munich might find the biggest danger to maintaining its fine early season form is complacency.

Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said 10 goals "would have been possible" in Wednesday's 6-1 thrashing of French side Lille "but then the euphoria would hit the roof. We don't need that."

Free-scoring Bayern is seven points clear of Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt, with defending champion Borussia Dortmund a distant fifth in the Bundesliga. Bayern's main rivals all dropped points last weekend.

But Rummenigge is determined to maintain his players' focus as Bayern aims to make it 10 wins from 11 league games when Frankfurt visits Munich on Saturday.

"We have a wonderful advantage. But we have to stay just as focused and motivated when we take to the pitch on Saturday," Rummenigge said. "Frankfurt are playing a wonderful season. Now we just need to keep bringing in points, not suffer any defeats."

Frankfurt was the first team promoted to the Bundesliga to win its opening four games, and despite winning two more, it has stuttered lately with just four points from its last four matches.

"We didn't get 20 points from 10 games for nothing," said Frankfurt coach Armin Veh on Thursday. "Our goal is always to win the ball and then to quickly pour forward."

However, Veh acknowledged the size of the task in Munich.

"At the moment it seems as though they are playing in their own league," the 51-year-old said.

Dortmund is 11 points behind Bayern, and can ill afford another slip-up at Augsburg on Saturday.

"We eagerly want to gather points in Augsburg but won't underestimate the opponent," said Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp, whose side was narrowly denied a Champions League win over Real Madrid by Mesut Oezil's late goal from a free kick on Tuesday, two weeks after beating the Spanish side at home.

"Tuesday showed us how much fun football can be if you put everything into it."

Also on Saturday, Schalke hosts Werder Bremen, Freiburg plays Hamburger SV and Hoffenheim visits Fortuna Duesseldorf.

On Sunday, fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen visits Wolfsburg, Stuttgart plays Hannover and Greuther Fuerth hosts Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Nuremberg will get the 11th round underway at Mainz on Friday.

As Dortmund was drawing 2-2 in Madrid, Schalke fought back from 2-0 down to secure a draw with Arsenal, having already beaten the English Premier League side away.

"If you had told us we'd get four points against Arsenal, we'd have said you were dreaming," said Schalke general manager Horst Heldt, whose side has quietly become Bayern's main title rival.

Last weekend's surprise loss to Hoffenheim was only Schalke's second overall, with Hoffenheim's injury-time winner suggesting thoughts had already turned to Arsenal.

"If you don't take your chances you'll be punished, unfortunately. But that's football," said Schalke coach Huub Stevens.

Schalke will be without defender Atsuto Uchida and midfielder Marco Hoeger for the coming weeks. Uchida tore a muscle in his right thigh, while Hoeger damaged his right ankle in Tuesday's game against Arsenal.

Bayern has a large squad to cope with such issues, and the luxury of a substitute like Claudio Pizarro, who has scored five goals and created two more in his first two full appearances since returning from Werder Bremen.

"I hadn't scored three goals in one half for a long time, so I'm delighted," said Pizarro after the win over Lille.

Rummenigge was careful not to praise the Peru striker lest it go to his head.

"I praise the first player in May, 2013, in the hope that I can still praise him then," Rummenigge said, referring to the season's end.

Pizarro, who is the Bundesliga's top-scoring foreigner with 160 goals, got his chance against Lille only after Mario Mandzukic was ruled out with flu. He will be keen to make his mark again on Saturday, as Germany striker Mario Gomez continues his recuperation from ankle surgery.

Despite the wealth of options up front, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes insists defense takes priority.

"Even if you're winning 3-0, you can never concede a goal. It's extremely important that we always keep a clean sheet," said Heynckes, whose side is the first in the Bundesliga not to concede a goal in its first five away games.

With 30 goals scored and only four conceded, Bayern has also set a new differential record after 10 rounds.

"It will be much more difficult against Frankfurt," Heynckes said.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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