Bayern comeback hampered by injuries

BERLIN - Bayern Munich will have to field another makeshift team against Freiburg on Friday as continuing injury woes could scupper plans to start chipping away at the 12-point gap to Bundesliga leaders Mainz 05.

"I have been doing that for some time now and at some point it has to start bearing fruit. As the saying goes practice makes perfect," said coach Louis van Gaal.

Last season's Champions League finalists, who also won the domestic double, added striker Miroslav Klose to their injury list on Thursday, only a day after he recovered from another knock.

"We were successful last season because we had passion, determination and a fighting spirit and the team would be well advised to start applying these attributes now so they can turn the corner," said club chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as Bayern languish in 11th place with 12 points from nine games.

World Cup fatigue and a short pre-season preparation for many of their players were initially the diagnosis for their worst start to a season.

But their extended misfortune in the league, with just four points in the last four games, is firmly down to missing key players including wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, who has not played this season.

Captain Mark van Bommel, defenders Diego Contento and Breno as well as midfielder David Alaba are also out.

Klose's absence is especially bitter going into the game against Freiburg with the champions having scored a meagre eight goals, the lowest in Bundesliga this season.

Even bottom-placed Cologne have scored more while surprise leaders Mainz, on 24 points, have netted 19 times.

But with Klose out and fellow striker Ivica Olic just back and donning a facemask to protect a broken nose, van Gaal's offensive options are limited with Mario Gomez his only fit all-out striker.

"We cannot allow ourselves to slip up in the next three games against Freiburg, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Nuremberg. We must narrow the gap to the top and we must start now," said Bayern sports director Christian Nerlinger.

In-form Mainz, who have won eight of their nine league matches, take on second-placed Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.

Both crashed out of the cup to lower-division teams this week but Dortmund had to play 30 minutes of extra-time plus penalties before losing to Kickers Offenbach on Wednesday.

"That extra time was not good for us," said Borussia coach Jurgen Klopp. "Now we have to pull ourselves together and see who is fit against Mainz. There will be no excuses."