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UEFA Cup

Tough but tolerable group draw for FCB

Bayern will approach the UEFA Cup group phase knowing hard work lies ahead against a range of attractive opponents from across Europe, but the Bundesliga leaders will be confident of progressing to the last 32 following Tuesday’s draw in Nyon, Switzerland. Munich have been drawn in Group F along with English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers, Braga of Portugal, Serbian cracks FK Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) and Aris Thessaloniki of Greece.

“It’s not an easy group. We’ll have to watch ourselves,“ general manager Uli Hoeneß warned. “We’ve been handed an attractive draw against some very good teams. It’s a demanding group,“ commented head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Opener in Belgrade

Bayern open their group campaign in Belgrade on 25 October against Serbian double winners Crvena Zvezda at their stadium of the same name, although the ground is locally known as the “Marakana” for its former capacity of more than 100,000. “We’ve been knocked out by them before,” recalled chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Back in 1991-2, the Bavarians fell to Red Star in the European Champions’ Cup semi-finals by a 4-3 aggregate scoreline.

Two weeks later, Munich take to the Allianz Arena turf against Bolton, rated by Hitzfeld as the chief threat in the section alongside the men from Belgrade. Germany’s most successful club then return to Portugal, where they recently overcame Belenenses in the first round, to face SC Braga on 29 November. “We’re up against Braga, another Portuguese side. Our experience with Belenenses showed that won’t be a stroll,“ Hoeneß admonished.

Klose in confident mood

Bayern are not in action on Matchday 4, rounding off their group fixtures on 19 December at home to Greek outfit Thessaloniki. The top three in each group progress to the last 32. “Provided we concentrate in all our matches, we should definitely get through,“ striker Miroslav Klose declared.

Bayern’s Group F fixtures:

25.10.2007 FK Crvena Zvezda v Bayern Munich
08.11.2007 Bayern Munich v Bolton Wanderers (k-o 7 pm)
29.11.2007 SC Braga v Bayern Munich
06.12.2007 -
19.12.2007 Bayern Munich v Aris Thessaloniki (k-o 8.45 pm)