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‘A vital match’

Van Buyten targets win over former team-mates

Daniel van Buyten is not in the Bayern side as a goalscorer. His designated job is completely the opposite, to prevent the opposition scoring, and yet the Belgium international has chalked up two goals of his own since the mid-season break, both of them crucial strikes for his team.

The centre-half headed home shortly after half-time to put his side 3-2 up in the Cup against Wuppertal, a match the Reds went on to win 5-2. And on Thursday, he banished any lingering doubts as to his side’s superiority over Aberdeen with the Bavarians’ second in the 5-1 UEFA Cup gala.

Superb attitude

“It was about mental strength today, because we knew we had more quality. We concentrated hard, and that was decisive,” the 30-year-old commented afterwards. Just as in the previous weekend’s victory in Hanover, Van Buyten was deputising for the injured Martin Demichelis, Lucio’s regular partner at the heart of the defence this term. Van Buyten, a regular last season, has only featured in a third of the club’s 31 competitive games in 2007-8 so far.

“You have to be professional about it,” Van Buyten said in answer to a question as to his current role as a squad player. “You have to be ready when the coach calls on you. Maybe you even train harder than the guys in the team, because you need to be totally fit. It’s a difficult situation, but it’s one I can learn from.“

Keen to reclaim place

Sunday’s visitors Hamburger SV are one of the Belgian’s former clubs. With Demichelis still injured, Van Buyten is set for another starting appearance. “I may have a run in the side coming up. I’ll do the best I can, and try and show the boss I’m worth a place in the team,” he declared ahead of the Aberdeen clash.

Daniel will not require any additional motivating words from Ottmar Hitzfeld on Sunday. “I’ll be the one doing the talking in the dressing room beforehand, because this is a vital match for us. I’m determined to finish on the winning side,” he said. A goal against his former team-mates would represent the crowning glory of a good week for Daniel van Buyten.