Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen: Rafinha wary of Pizarro threat
Rafinha has warned his Bayern Munich team-mates they cannot afford to give Claudio Pizarro any space in Saturday's Bundesliga clash with Werder Bremen.
The Peruvian attacker was deemed surplus to requirements at Bayern last season, but has shown in 2015-16 that he remains a force to be reckoned with.
Pizarro has claimed 12 goals and two assists in his last 11 appearances in all competitions and is the Bundesliga's top scorer in 2016 with nine goals, one more than Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski.
The 37-year-old will be looking to add to his tally at the weekend, but Rafinha is determined to keep his former team-mate quiet at the Allianz Arena.
"Claudio's goal at the weekend goes to show yet again that goalscoring is his speciality. He's ruthless in the penalty area. You always have to keep an eye on him and you can't give him any space at all. We know Claudio well and we also know how to deal with him," Rafinha told the Bayern website.
"It's no surprise to see him play so well at the age of 37 to me personally. We played, trained and lived together at Bayern and I know what he's capable of.
"He's so experienced, he still has his legs and he still gets upset when things go wrong on the pitch. That's good. I hope he gets to play for another couple of years yet.
"We won't be friends for 90 minutes out on the pitch on Saturday, but we'll be laughing together again after the game. My hope is that he plays well - and we win."
Bayern have won just one of their last four games in all competitions, but will nonetheless be confident of prevailing against Werder.
The Bundesliga leaders have won their last 10 league games against Saturday's opponents, which is Bremen’s longest losing sequence against a particular top-flight opponent. Bayern's last defeat at the hands of Werder came in September 2008, when they were beaten 5-2 in Munich.
Bayern will still be without the injured Jerome Boateng (groin) and Holger Badstuber (ankle), but Javi Martinez is edging closer to his comeback.
The visitors, meanwhile, have reason for optimism irrespective of their poor run of form against Bayern.
They beat both Bayer Leverkusen and Hannover 4-1 to climb up to 13th place in the Bundesliga table, three points clear of the relegation play-off place.
Head coach Viktor Skripnik will have to make do without the services of suspended duo Clemens Fritz and Zlatko Junuzovic, while Philipp Bargfrede remains unavailable due to a meniscus problem.
Key Opta facts:
- This will be the 100th Bundesliga meeting between both sides, with Bayern emerging victorious on 48 occasions against Werder's 26 wins.
- Pep Guardiola has a 100 per cent record against Bremen (five wins from five, scoring 23 times and conceding just twice)
- Bremen haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last 28 league games.
- Bayern haven't won either of their last two league games (2-1 defeat to Mainz, 0-0 versus Borussia Dortmund), their worst run of form this term.
- Werder have taken seven points from the last nine available (after a four-game winless run). They are now 13th in the Bundesliga table, their best ranking since matchday seven.