presented by
‘Manageable’ draw

UEFA Cup: Bayern handed Portuguese task

Following an unbroken decade in the Champions League, Bayern will open their assault on the UEFA Cup in Portugal with a first-round tie against CF Os Belenenses of Lisbon after the sides were paired in Friday lunchtime’s draw at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

“I’m happy with the draw,“ commented Bayern boss Ottmar Hitzfeld, naming his side as favourites to progress. “We should be able to eliminate the likes of Belenenses,” he stated. Munich have never previously met the club from the Lisbon suburb of Belem.

First leg at the Allianz Arena

The inaugural match-up between the clubs takes place on 20 September and 4 October, with the first leg at the Allianz Arena. “It’s a shame the return’s not at home,” Mark van Bommel remarked. Hitzfeld echoed that thought, but still oozed confidence: “We’ll beat these opponents.” The winners proceed to the draw for the competition’s group phase on 9 October in Nyon.

“It’s good we don’t have to travel too far,“ Hitzfeld observed, after the Reds were spared a trip to one of many little-known eastern European clubs which featured in the draw. Following the allocation of the 80 clubs according to certain geographical criteria a few hours before the draw itself, the list of the Reds’ potential opponents was narrowed down to Toulouse (France), Aberdeen (Scotland), Helsingborgs IF (Sweden), Brann Bergen (Norway) and Belenenses.

Totally focused

Watched by Finance Director Karl Hopfer as Bayern’s representative in Monaco, former Liverpool and Lyon coach Gérard Houllier paired Munich with the Portuguese top flight outfit, who last claimed domestic league glory in 1946. Belenenses were a lively attacking side, Hitzfeld warned in a first reaction to the draw. “We won’t make the mistake of underestimating them.”

Bayern will be totally focused as they approach their first UEFA Cup challenge for ten years, filled with a steely determination to reach the Final on 14 May 2008 in Manchester.