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Optimistic Bayern eye quarter-final berth

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Optimistic Bayern eye quarter-final berth

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:10 pm

Bayern are on a roll after thrashing Hoffenheim at the weekend, and will now seek to carry that momentum into the Champions League last sixteen return at home to FC Basel on Tuesday (Live in English from 8.30 pm CET on Web Radio). However, after losing to a late goal at St Jakob Park two weeks ago, Germany's biggest club must win by two clear goals to be certain of a place in the quarter-finals.

"It's a very important match, affecting the course of the season," emphasised club president Uli Hoeneß in the build-up to the meeting with the Swiss league leaders. "If we're knocked out on Tuesday, it'll be hard to rescue this season. We have to go through against Basel." Hoeneß took heart from the crushing 7-1 Bundesliga win at the weekend: "The team showed what they're capable of. I'm convinced we can do it."

Bayern director of sport Christian Nerlinger described the clash between the German FCB and the Swiss FCB as "an exceptionally important match, and a very tough challenge." The official feels Basel will "certainly go at it in a different way than Hoffenheim," so the match would be "anything but a game we can take for granted." However, should Bayern pick up where they left off on Saturday, "then it'll look very good," Nerlinger concluded.

Prior to the meeting with the side who have yet to lose away from home in the Champions League this season, coach Jupp Heynckes described himself as "optimistic" and "feeling good. I'm confident we can hand FC Basel their first away defeat and go through to the quarter-finals," the 66-year-old declared at the obligatory pre-match press conference at the Allianz Arena on Monday.

Heynckes calls for peak performance

Big European matches were "the icing on the cake," said Heynckes, "every player knows what's at stake." However, the seasoned boss warned his men to beware "tricky opponents, who play a very good standard of football." Basel last lost in their domestic league back on 20 August 2011, so Bayern will need "to take the match very seriously," Heynckes warned. "We want to get through to the quarter-finals, so we'll need an absolutely peak performance."

"We know we have to win, but not by going at it hell for leather," said Toni Kroos, surveying the home side's options for Tuesday evening. "We'll build from the back, from a controlled defensive platform. We mustn't all charge forward right from the start, because we might end up conceding goals." Heynckes felt the secret would be "a good balance" between attack and defence. Keeper Manuel Neuer stressed the need for caution: "Being 1-0 down is a dangerous position. We know Basel are capable of scoring at any time."

Bayern's renewed hunger

However, the morale-boosting result at the weekend means the men from Munich are bursting with confidence ahead of the Basel showdown, Heynckes reported. "We delivered a very balanced performance against Hoffenheim, and that was important. The group is hungry again, and united as well."

Heynckes will wait for last-minute news on the fitness of Jerome Boateng, Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez before settling on his line-up. Of the three, Gomez is causing the most concern: "He has a deep cut, but I hope he can play," the boss reported. Rafinha may return to the squad if he recovers from flu, but Heynckes declined to say whether fit-again Bastian Schweinsteiger is a candidate to start.

Regardless of the team which eventually takes the field, Bayern know they face a severe challenge, as Thomas Müller confirmed: "I think Basel will ask us quite a few questions," the striker said. Gomez called for another outstanding team display: "We need to show the same determination, desire and commitment as we did against Hoffenheim, and put in our tackles. If we do, it'll definitely be a good game for us and we'll make the next round."
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