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Reds primed for tough test at group stage

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Reds primed for tough test at group stage

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:30 am

05.10.2007

Bayern will watch the draw for the UEFA Cup group stage with interest when 40 teams are drawn into eight sections of five at midday next Tuesday at the European governing body’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Each club plays twice at home and twice away with no return matches, and clubs from the same country cannot be drawn against each other. The top three in each group qualify for the knockout stage, where they are joined by the eight third-placed teams from the Champions League group phase.

For the first time since 2002, the German Bundesliga has four representatives in the draw. Italy’s Serie A fared a great deal worse as Sampdoria, US Palermo and Empoli all failed to survive the first round, with Fiorentina scraping through on penalties against Groningen. Other big-name casualties include Ajax Amsterdam, Club Bruges, Real Saragossa, Blackburn Rovers and Dnjepr Dnjepropetrowsk.

<b>Stern challenge ahead</b>

Germany’s most successful club could still face seasoned and potentially dangerous opponents, although Munich boast the second-best UEFA club co-efficient and will be drawn from the pot reserved for the eight top seeds, thus avoiding the likes of Villareal, AZ Alkmaar, Panathinaikos, FC Basel, Girondins Bordeaux and RSC Anderlecht.

However, the names in pots two and three, which will provide Hitzfeld’s men with the opposition for their two home fixtures, include clubs with ambition and international pedigree. Tottenham Hotspur, Locomotive Moscow, Zenith St. Petersburg, Sparta Prague, AEK Athens, Bolton Wanderers and Austria Vienna would be only too pleased to claim a Bavarian scalp en route to the knockout round.

<b>Reunion for Toni?</b>

And those are just the clubs in pot two: the third pot contains equally experienced sides Spartak Moscow, SC Braga, Galatasaray Istanbul, FC Getafe, Atletico Madrid, Everton and Stade Rennes, although the most intriguing draw from a Bayern point of view would be Luca Toni’s former club Fiorentina.

The 16 teams in the final two pots offer the prospect of top-quality sport and interesting travel. Hapoel Tel Aviv, Red Star Belgrade, FC Copenhagen, Toulouse, Dynamo Zagreb, Panionios Athen and Czech outfit Mlada Boleslav will all be hoping for a big payday at home to Bayern.

<b>Confident Hoeneß</b>

Munich’s opponents from pot five will come from Scandinavia (Aalborg BK, Brann Bergen, IF Elsborg, Helsingborg), Greece (Aris Thessaloniki, FC Larissa), Scotland (Aberdeen) or Switzerland (FC Zurich). Whatever the outcome of the draw, general manager Uli Hoeneß is confident about his side’s chances.

“Three teams go through from a group of five. I can’t imagine we won’t have a chance of finishing third across four games. And I also don’t believe we’ll play another away match in front of a less than capacity crowd,“ the board director commented.
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