Ribery eyes start against Stuttgart

BERLIN - Playmaker Franck Ribery could get a starting spot at home to VfB Stuttgart on Saturday as buoyant Bayern Munich continue chasing an unprecedented German treble.

Ribery, recovered from the latest in a string of ankle injuries, came on as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 extra-time win over Schalke 04 on Wednesday that took the Bavarians through to the German Cup final.

With a hectic end of season in store in the Bundesliga and the Champions League too, coach Louis van Gaal is keen for the gifted Frenchman to start playing regularly.

"Franck was injured in the summer's pre-season training and in the winter break and to come back during the season is difficult," Van Gaal told reporters.

"But he is a top quality player and a coach always wants to start with his best players."

Bayern are top of the Bundesliga with 56 points, one ahead of Schalke and three in front of Bayer Leverkusen who meet in a heavyweight clash on Saturday.

With a Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester United also coming up on Tuesday, in-form Dutch winger Arjen Robben said the victory over Schalke had lowered the heat on Bayern.


"We are in the German Cup final now and some of the pressure on the team has been lifted," said Robben after scoring the winner on Wednesday.

"Now we need to keep pushing in the league and hope we get a good day in the Champions League."

Stuttgart will be no pushovers. They quickly forgot the 4-0 Champions League thrashing by Barcelona by recording a 2-0 win over Hanover 96 last week and are desperate for points to clinch a European spot.

"We are going to Munich to win," said Stuttgart coach Christian Gross who has transformed the team since taking over in mid-season, lifting them from deep in the relegation zone to seventh place.

Under Gross, Stuttgart have the second best record in the league since the winter break with seven wins from 10 matches.

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