Jittery Bayern face test from former coach Magath

November 22, 2007

BERLIN, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Felix Magath has the chance to do a bit more damage to his former club's already fraying nerves when VfL Wolfsburg visit leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday.

Magath led Bayern to two league and cup doubles in two years before losing his job towards the end of his third season in charge.

Under his replacement Ottmar Hitzfeld, Bayern have topped the league all season but a dip in form means their position is under threat when Magath returns to the Bavarian capital.

After starting the season in such style Hitzfeld's side have taken just two points from their last three games and need to recover from a 3-1 defeat by VfB Stuttgart last time out.

They are clinging to top spot by a single point from Werder Bremen, who are away to Energie Cottbus on Saturday, and Hamburg SV, who host Hansa Rostock on Sunday.

Bayern jitters were clearly on show at the club's recent Annual General Meeting when manager Uli Hoeness lost his temper with a group of fans.

That outburst made headlines for days in Bavaria and the club have also had to deal with a stream of transfer stories and speculation, firmly denied, that they are trying to line up Rafa Benitez to replace Hitzfeld.

Given the atmosphere, Hitzfeld will no doubt be grateful for the end of the international break and the return to matters on the field.

Bayern could have Willy Sagnol back in the squad after the French full back came through a practice match last week, seven months after injuring his knee in a Champions League game.

Wolfsburg are in 11th place after losing their last two games before the break but a 3-1 win over Czech side Bohemians in a friendly this week has restored a touch of confidence.

'Bayern are good but not unbeatable,' Wolfsburg's Brazilian forward Marcelinho said this week. 'We're going to try to make it difficult for them to hold on to top spot.'

Werder, who closed to within a point of Bayern thanks to a 4-0 win over Karlsruhe last time, will be without injured striker Hugo Almeida when they play bottom club Cottbus but Boubacar Sanogo could be back after a foot problem.

Hamburg's preparations for the return to action against Rostock on Sunday have hardly been ideal. They learned this week that coach Huub Stevens will leave at the end of the season to join PSV Eindhoven.

In other games on Saturday, improving champions Stuttgart aim for a fourth successive league win at Eintracht Frankfurt, while Schalke 04, last season's runners-up, are away to Hanover 96.