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Preview: Confident Bayern target win in Belgrade

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Preview: Confident Bayern target win in Belgrade

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:04 pm


Belgrade, Bolton and Braga may be Bayern’s European group stage opponents this season rather than Milan, Madrid or Manchester, but although Munich’s UEFA Cup foes struggle to match their Champions League equivalents for prestige, the Bavarians face a stern test of their potential as they pursue a place in the knock-out round via a top three finish in the five-team section. The Bundesliga leaders’ opening group fixture takes them to Belgrade and a meeting with FK Crvena Zvezda, more commonly known as Red Star Belgrade, on Thursday evening (<b>Live in English from 9 pm CET on Web Radio</b>).

The duel with the 1992 European Cup winners “could well be our most difficult group match,” warned Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge before boarding the flight to the Serbian capital on Wednesday morning. The situation has been exacerbated by a <a href="/en/news/news/2007/13820.php?fcb_sid=d76d712b05dc0a28064c60ce7f999e2c" target="_top" class="content_link">crop of late withdrawals</a> from the Bavarians’ squad, although Rummenigge insisted that would not change the club’s self-proclaimed goal: “We want to finish top of the group.“

<b>Seething cauldron awaits</b>

“We’re looking forward to the challenge. Red Star Belgrade is a name redolent with tradition,” commented coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, describing the trip to the Balkans as “a chance to learn something new.“ The boss felt Thursday’s opponents were “talented and technically sound, well equipped in every area, and very well organised.“

A passionate 54,000 crowd at the Marakana stadium would raise the temperature to boiling point, Mark van Bommel predicted. “If the crowd spots their team has a chance of taking something from the game, they’ll be totally fired up and it could be hard for us,” reflected the Dutch ace, once a 3-2 loser with PSV Eindhoven in Belgrade. Added Michael Rensing: “We can expect a very, very hostile reception, it’ll be a real fight.“

<b>Ninety percent ‘not enough’</b>

The runaway Bundesliga leaders would require “cool and experienced heads“, according to Hitzfeld. “We mustn’t be put off our game by all the commotion.” On the other hand, Van Bommel and Co. must ensure they are not penned back in defence for the whole match. “We need to give it everything and play to our full potential,” Rensing observed. “Ninety percent won’t be enough to win any games,“ Van Bommel concluded.

The five late withdrawals from the squad on Wednesday have left Hitzfeld with few selection alternatives. Christian Lell, “currently in great shape“ according to the boss, will partner Lucio in central defence, with right-back Philipp Lahm tossed in at the deep end after almost eight weeks out with injury. “I wasn’t going to bring him back until Dortmund next Sunday, but now he’ll have to grit his teeth and start the game. Let’s see how long he lasts,” Hitzfeld observed.

<b>Confident dressing room</b>

Bastian Schweinsteiger returns to the starting line-up in place of Ribéry, and Lukas Podolski deputises for Luca Toni alongside Miroslav Klose. “Poldi has plenty of strengths too. We have a very good understanding, as we’ve shown for Germany. I’m sure he’ll do well,” Klose declared confidently.

Confidence is certainly not in short supply among the squad, reduced to just 16 men by the spate of withdrawals. “It’s the first group match, and important to start with three points. It would allow us to approach the remaining games calmly and confidently,” Rensing remarked, a statement echoed by Hitzfeld: “We’ve set our sights high for this competition and we need a decent start. In other words, we want all three points.“

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

<b>FK Crvena Zvezda:</b> Randjelovic - Basta, Gueye, Tutoric, Andjelkovic - Castillo, Lukas - Molina, Milijas, Koroman - Jestrovic

<b>Bayern Munich:</b> Rensing - Lahm, Lucio, Lell, Jansen – Altintop, Van Bommel, Zé Roberto, Schweinsteiger - Klose, Podolski
<b>Also in matchday squad:</b> Dreher, Schlaudraff, Sosa, Kroos, Hummels

<b>Referee:</b> Matteo Simone Trefoloni (Italy)
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