Created on 05-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
Following a first Munich derby success at the Allianz Arena and a first Bundesliga win at the Schalke Arena, Bayern are keen to continue a week of premieres in the UEFA Cup Round of 16 on Thursday evening (Live in English from 6.45 pm CET on FCB.tv Web Radio), when Germany's most successful club go in search of a first victory away to Belgian champions RSC Anderlecht. "We'll do whatever we can to secure the win," remarked Ottmar Hitzfeld before joining the travelling party for the flight to Brussels on Wednesday morning.
Bayern will go for victory at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium, unlikely to be filled to its 21,500 capacity on Thursday, "but a draw or even a narrow defeat would do,“ Uli Hoeneß mused, "it would put us in a good position for the return next week.“ The most important thing would be "to keep a clean sheet," Bastian Schweinsteiger commented.
Bordeaux as warning
To a man, the Bayern party knows the trip to the Brussels suburb of Anderlecht will be anything but easy. "RSC are dangerous opponents," Philipp Lahm observed. Hitzfeld described the Belgians, who feature former Bundesliga stars Bart Goor (Berlin) and Jan Polak (Nuremberg), as "difficult opponents. Anderlecht boast a rich tradition and plenty of European experience. They didn't get past Bordeaux by luck. That should serve as a warning.“
The serial Belgian champions' unexpected success in the Round of 32 against the side lying second in France will certainly focus Bavarian minds. Furthermore, although Anderlecht struggled in the autumn, they have only lost one of their last 13 competitive fixtures, a fact which has not gone unnoticed in Munich. "We’re arriving just as they run into peak form," Daniel van Buyten declared in an fcbayern.de exclusive interview.
Daniel the spy
Anderlecht favoured a three-pronged forward line boasting pace, movement and technical skill, Hitzfeld pointed out, while coach Ariel Jacobs' men defended collectively with discipline and physical strength. "We'll have to be patient," remarked Hitzfeld, preparing to finalise his insider information about Thursday's opponents by talking to Van Buyten on matchday, "once he's read the papers." Hitzfeld is hoping Bayern's solitary Belgian can produce a few nuggets of espionage from the local media.
The coach and his men are well aware of the club's patchy record in Anderlecht. Bayern have lost two (4-1, 2-0) and drawn two (2-2, 1-1) in previous visits to the Constant Vanden Stock stadium, described by Van Buyten as a part of the home team's armoury. Schweinsteiger vividly recalls Munich's most recent visit in the 2003-4 Champions League Group stage, "they're very inspired by their crowd.“ Hitzfeld agreed: "Anderlecht can rise above themselves at home.“
However, even in what Hitzfeld termed RSC's "cauldron“, Bayern will hope to impose their authority on the match. "We have plenty of respect but no fear," Schweinsteiger declared ahead of Bayern's fifth attempt to come away from Anderlecht with a win, despite the absence of Oliver Kahn, Zé Roberto and Lucio. Anderlecht should not be underestimated, commented Kahn understudy Michael Rensing, "but we're Bayern Munich, and we should simply focus on ourselves.“