Louis Van Gaal has never been one to shy away from a challenge and his characteristically bullish response to a growing defensive injury crisis is to put the emphasis on attack as Bayern Munich seek to maintain their narrow advantage over Lyons in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Stade Gerland tonight.
Bayern hold a slender 1-0 lead thanks to Arjen Robben's well-crafted strike at the Allianz Arena last week, but will have Franck Ribéry suspended for tonight's second leg and, perhaps more significantly, be shorn of their central defensive partnership as they chase a place in their first Champions League final in nine years. Daniel van Buyten, Martin Demichelis and Diego Contento are all major doubts, added to which the defensive midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk has not travelled to France due to illness, leaving Van Gaal to make a late decision over selection.
"We have got to forget about the first leg because this is going to be a different game," said Van Gaal. "But I believe our will is strong. We have many injuries and many problems. We hope that they can play. "
Whatever 11 he settles on, the Dutchman believes he can rely on one extra quality which defines a German team – as Sir Alex Ferguson is all too well aware. "When I was coaching Holland, I used to always say that you have not beaten a German team, even if it is the 90th minute and you are ahead," he explained. "We have many German players in our side and there are many foreigners who have played a long time in Germany.
"These players have learnt a lot from German football and this extraordinary mentality of German footballers. That is also why I am here at Bayern Munich."
While Van Gaal may well be without the error-prone Van Buyten, who has severe bruising to his lower leg, and Demichelis, who has pulled his calf muscle, he can welcome Mark van Bommel back from suspension.
Van Gaal will decide between two German internationals, Miroslav Klose or Mario Gomez, up front as Bayern look to take the next step towards a historic treble – as Manchester United did in 1999. They lead Schalke on goal difference at the top of the Bundesliga with two games of the season remaining and face Werder Bremen in the cup final.
Claude Puel, Lyons' coach, has admitted that his side were too cautious in the first leg and with the need to score at least twice tonight will adopt a very different approach.
"We played with the handbrake on," said Puel. "I prefer this kind of scenario, because you play your best football when you need to get a result. Without being overly optimistic, I think we have every chance to qualify simply by playing to our ability."Reuse content