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Old foe Anelka due back in town with Bolton

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Old foe Anelka due back in town with Bolton

Postby FCBayernNews » Tue Oct 09, 2007 11:29 pm

09.10.2007

Bayern will meet <b>Bolton Wanderers</b> for the first time ever when the sides cross swords in this term’s UEFA Cup, but one face in the English Premier League club’s squad will be all too familiar to Munich diehards: Bolton and France striker Nicolas Anelka, then a promising youngster with Real Madrid, struck twice to send the men in red tumbling out of the 1999-2000 Champions League at the semi-final stage.

Anelka is by no means the only big-name personality in the Trotters’ 35-strong squad, which also features Senegal international El-Hadji Diouf (ex-Liverpool), Spain’s Ivan Campo (ex-Real Madrid), Sweden star Christian Wilhelmsson (AS Rom), Wales veteran Gary Speed (Newcastle) and Greek EURO 2004 winner Stelios Giannakopoulos. Former Liverpool dynamo Sammy Lee took up the managerial reins at the start of the season.

<b>Poor start for Wanderers</b>

Despite the wealth of international experience at the club, Wanderers have made a thoroughly disappointing start to the new campaign: the four-time FA Cup winners (most recently in 1958) currently lie a lowly 19th in the Premier League. Long-term inspiration Jay-Jay Okocha moved on a year ago, and the shock departure of coach Sam Allardyce in late April this year may have hurt the club more than initially estimated.

Nevertheless, the Bolton camp expressed delight at the match-up with Germany’s biggest club. "We all said Bayern Munich in the group would be fantastic, so we're all very happy," declared Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, hoping the plum draw might re-invigorate the Trotters’ campaign this term: “You're looking for signs and things which might start your season off and this could be a great fillip for everybody,” he remarked.

<b>Well-supported Aris boast few trophies</b>

Bayern’s final group fixture sees <b>Aris Thessaloniki</b> visit the Allianz Arena on 19 December. The Greeks, who feature ancient god of war Ares on their club crest and are based in the country’s second city, rate as one of the biggest and most popular clubs in their home nation, but have yet to meet Bayern at any point in their history.

Thessaloniki boast a modest trophy collection, with their three national championships (1928, 1932, 1946) and solitary Cup triumph (1970) all belonging to the distant past. Aris have twice dropped into the Greek second division, most recently in 2004-5, although they immediately bounced back to the top flight and made their last appearance in the UEFA Cup as losing Cup finalists. As so often in the past, they failed to survive the first round.

<b>Star coach</b>

Thessaloniki’s greatest success on the European stage was reaching the UEFA Cup Round of 16 in 1979-80. The Greeks, who qualified for this season’s competition by finishing fourth in the league last term, currently lie eighth in the Super League with just one win in four matches, although the side coached by Dusan Bajevic remains undefeated.

Bajevic, who took the hot seat after former incumbent Carlos Oliva of Spain was dismissed after only one game in early September, is regarded as the sole true star at the club. The Serbian national is the most successful club coach in Greece, winning a total of nine championships with AEK Athens, Olympiakos Piraeus and PAOK Thessaloniki. Bajevic led his new charges into the group stage courtesy of a 1-0 home win and a 2-1 away defeat against Real Saragossa, igniting hopes of a new and successful era at Aris.
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