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Preview: FCB v Dons

Resolute Bayern aim for last sixteen

Despite Franck Ribéry’s continuing absence, the mood in the Bayern camp is one of quiet confidence as the Reds approach the first potentially decisive phase in their quest for silverware on three fronts this term. A run of three pivotal fixtures in the space of just seven days begins on Thursday with the UEFA Cup Round of 32 return at home to Aberdeen (Live in English from 6.30 pm CET on Web Radio).

“Franck may be fit to train with the squad on Friday. Should that be the case, and if he’s OK to ride tackles, he could be in contention for Sunday,” Ottmar Hitzfeld reported, confirming the gifted midfielder’s absence against the Scots. Bayern return to Bundesliga action on Sunday with a showdown at home to third-placed Hamburger SV, before a mouth-watering clash with bitter rivals TSV 1860 Munich in a German Cup quarter-final three days after that.

Must-win clash

The first task for Hitzfeld’s men is to capitalise on last week’s 2-2 away draw in Aberdeen and claim a berth in the last sixteen of this season’s UEFA Cup. “We’re favourites and we’re aiming to reach the final, so obviously we have to go out and win,” Hitzfeld declared ahead of the meeting with the side lying eighth in the Scottish Premier League.

“It’s a good position to be in, but we have to take the job seriously,” the increasingly influential Bastian Schweinsteiger demanded, calling on his team-mates to maintain total concentration. “We know full well they’re capable of making a game of it, but if we play to our potential, we’ll win the match,” the Germany star continued.

Warning against complacency

Mark van Bommel and Willy Sagnol echoed the midfielder’s comments, insisting Miroslav Klose and Hamit Altintop’s away goals were no grounds for premature celebration. “Two away goals are always an advantage, but we should approach the game as if it’s 0-0 and score as early as possible. That would allow us to relax and control the play,” Sagnol remarked. Added Van Bommel: “If we sit back and take it easy, we won’t win.“

Captain Oliver Kahn issued his own warning against complacency. “Opponents come to us totally fired up and looking for one thing only, knocking the famous Bayern Munich out of the competition. Despite all that, we have to be winning games like Thursday’s,” demanded the keeper, set for his first appearance in the tie after missing the away leg with illness.

Schweinsteiger doubtful

Apart from Ribéry, Munich are without Martin Demichelis, as the Argentine stopper tore a calf muscle at Pittodrie. Schweinsteiger is also struggling with a tight calf and sat out Wednesday training. A final decision will be left until the day of the game.

The Scots will battle aggressively for every inch of turf and run until they drop, but Aberdeen have never won a match in Germany, and Bayern will feel the gulf in quality between the hard-working Dons and their own international class should be enough for a place in the last sixteen. “We’ll need to watch ourselves, but in normal circumstances, we should win the match,“ Van Bommel concluded.

Matchday squad: Kahn, Rensing, Sagnol, Lucio, Van Buyten, Lell, Lahm, Jansen, Breno, Altintop, Toni, Podolski, Zé Roberto, Ottl, Van Bommel, Klose, Schlaudraff, Sosa, Schweinsteiger, Kroos

Unavailable: Ribéry (fitness), Demichelis (calf), Dreher, Fürstner (omitted)

Referee: Robert Malek (Poland)

Previous meeting: Bayern 0 Aberdeen 0 (1982-3)