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Hitzfeld: We can win if we play as a team

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Hitzfeld: We can win if we play as a team

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Apr 02, 2007 6:30 pm


There were clues to the current mood in the Bayern camp even before the Munich party boarded the plane to Milan on Monday. The playing and coaching staff came together at the Säbener Strasse training ground for the trip to Munich airport, passed through check in as a group, and proceeded together through the security control. In short, Bayern presented a thoroughly united front.

"The decisive factor tomorrow will be to play as a team against AC Milan's eleven individuals - and the better team will win," coach Ottmar Hitzfeld declared ahead of Tuesday evening's Champions League quarter-final first leg (<b>Live in English from 8:30 pm CETon FCB Web Radio</b>). The Bayern boss is banking on a solid and disciplined display to pave the way for an aggregate victory and a place in the semi-finals.

<b>Return in Munich a plus</b>

"We're looking to come away with a decent result," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge remarked. According to both Rummenigge and general manager Uli Hoeneß, even a narrow defeat with at least one goal in the credit column would rate as "a good outcome, which we could cancel out in the return." That strategy worked well in the previous round, when Bayern progressed courtesy of a 2-0 win at home after a 3-2 defeat in Madrid. "We again have the return in Munich, which is a major advantage," Rummenigge reasoned.

However, Hitzfeld and his men are determined to emerge with more than just a decent result. "Why shouldn't we go there and win?" asked Owen Hargreaves, set to return after missing the weekend victory over Schalke with injury. "We're going to Milan on a wave of confidence, and we'll go out there and play accordingly," the England midfielder continued. Saturday's 2-0 success against the Bundesliga leaders was certainly a good way to warm up for Tuesday's European showdown.

<b>Battling the record books</b>

Bayern have tended to struggle against Italian opposition in the past, with AC Milan falling into the 'bogey team' category - Munich have won just once in eight meetings between the sides - but Hitzfeld insisted that could even work to the Germn champions' advantage. "There's a high probability we'll explode against Milan at some point. It's about time," the coach reflected.

Hitzfeld thought Bayern's sobering 4-1 defeat at the San Siro last season would simply serve to motivate his men: since the draw for the quarter-finals, the dressing room talk has been of nothing but settling a score. "The time has come for us to beat one of Europe's big names, and reconfirm that we belong to the top clubs on the continent," Willy Sagnol urged. Rummenigge called for "total effort" in both matches. "We're setting our sights high," Hasan Salihamidzic responded.

<b>Milan 'not what they used to be'</b>

The Bavarians know they will need a top-grade performance to overcome the Milanese. Hitzfeld rated the <i>Rossoneri</i> as "unpredictable, but certainly not what they used to be." The north Italians had yet to compensate for the loss of world-class goal-getter Andriy Shevchenko last summer, the coach analysed, although that simply meant Bayern would need to keep an even closer eye on Brazil superstar Kaka.

Hitzfeld called on his men to ignore the tumult from the 78,000 full house at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium and concentrate on themselves. "We need to impose our own philosophy on the match. That means aggressive pressing in midfield, not allowing them to settle or ourselves to be pushed too deep, and being ready to counter-attack at speed."

<b>Excellent team spirit</b>

Key personalities Oliver Kahn and Mark van Bommel both miss the match with suspension, but the coaching staff have utter faith in number two keeper Michael Rensing, with Hargreaves set for the pivotal role in midfield. "The team will pull even closer together and try to compensate for the missing players," Hoeneß reckoned. That was assuredly the evidence before and during the journey to a significant appointment in Milan.

<b>Probable line-ups:</b>

<b>AC Milan</b>: Dida - Oddo, Nesta, Maldini, Jankulovski - Pirlo - Gattuso, Seedorf - Kaka - Gilardino, Inzaghi

<b>Bayern Munich:</b> Rensing - Sagnol, Lucio, van Buyten, Lahm - Salihamidzic, Ottl, Hargreaves, Schweinsteiger - Makaay, Podolski

<b>Referee:</b> Mr Baskakov (Russia)
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