Created on 11-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
How does a team react to leading 5-0 before the home leg of a knockout tie has even kicked off? That is the main question surrounding Bayern’s meeting with Belgian champions RSC Anderlecht at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday evening (Live in English from 8.30 pm on FCB.tv Web Radio).
After the crushing victory in Brussels six days ago, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men are virtually assured of a place in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, to be played on 3 and 10 April. An unprecedented calamity would have to occur for the men in red not to progress: no team has ever overturned a five-goal deficit in the UEFA Cup. The sole concern might be a certain lack of motivation in the home ranks.
Keep on winning
However, Bayern fans need not worry on that score. The players have pledged to treat a near-capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena to entertaining and exciting football. “It’ll be close to a full house. We want to put on a show for the crowd,” promised seasoned midfielder Mark van Bommel. “We should show respect to our fans, play as well as we can, and maybe treat them to a goal or two,” agreed Daniel van Buyten.
That would represent a continuation of the streak which has seen Bayern win their last four games in all competitions. “We’re committed to winning the match,” insisted Hitzfeld, “we need to keep our confidence high, so we can’t afford a defeat.“ The Bavarians face a thorny-looking Bundesliga trip to Energie Cottbus on Saturday. “The Anderlecht game will help us maintain our rhythm,” Van Bommel remarked.
No Schweinsteiger and Zé
Hitzfeld is certain to rest a clutch of his regulars and use the midweek match to cast an eye over some of his squad players. “People will see a couple of players they may not have seen very often,” the coach confirmed. The General has already announced a debut for winter signing Breno. “I’m intrigued by him,” the coach admitted. Brazilian talent Breno will be paired with fellow-countryman Lucio or Martin Demichelis. Bastian Schweinsteiger misses out with injury, Zé Roberto has only just resumed training after the flu, and Luca Toni is suspended.
“Every player should give everything he has and earn himself another chance,” Hitzfeld demanded, pointing to the “immense competition for places“ at the club. “The men in the team will have to perform if they want to put themselves forward for more,” the coach repeated, although he declined to mention specific names.
100 percent required against Anderlecht
Hitzfeld regards his rotation policy as a motivating factor for the squad. “All the players who start will give it 100 percent,” Belgian centre-half Van Buyten declared. “We’re all fired up at the moment, regardless of our opponents or the competition. It doesn’t matter which team we send out, it’s going well. We’re enjoying ourselves, and maybe we’ll manage another minor spectacle.“ The 60,000 plus crowd would surely have no objection.