Created on 09-04-2008 at 00:00 AM
Bayern are long on confidence and short on nerves as they approach the most important fixture of the campaign so far, the UEFA Cup quarter-final return away to Getafe on Thursday evening (Live in English from 8.30 pm on FCB.tv Web radio). After last week’s 1-1 draw in Munich, the Bundesliga leaders must win or draw while scoring at least twice to progress to the next stage.
“It’ll be a real fight, it’s going to be very, very hard,” Bayern general manager Uli Hoeneß warned ahead of the clash at the 16,000-capacity Coliseum Alfonso Perez in the southern suburbs of Madrid. “But I’m really looking forward to it,” the board director insisted. Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld licked his lips at the prospect of “a big European night in a cauldron of a stadium,” and declared himself confident of success. “We’re going there with an amount of pent-up fury. We’re perfectly capable of winning away, and we still have an excellent chance.”
Final on foreign soil
Four days after a morale-boosting 3-1 win for Bayern’s ten men against VfL Bochum, the players are oozing “morale, energy and belief,” captain Oliver Kahn reported. “We all know it’s an uphill task, and you can feel the concentration as we approach this match,” the 38-year-old continued, “it’s like a final on foreign soil.”
Despite the home draw, “the watching world will still regard us as favourites,” but the match in Munich illustrated the quality of the team lying eleventh in La Liga. “Given the football Getafe play, it’s definitely an evenly-matched contest. We’ll have to impose ourselves on the game first,” Kahn warned. “But we’re not beaten yet. We’re looking forward to a fabulous night of European Cup football. We’ll get through, even if we have to do it on penalties.”
Seizing the initiative
Bayern will hope matters do not reach that stage, especially as last weekend’s heroics cost a great deal of energy. “We weren’t expecting to have to work as hard for victory as we did. We were hoping to be nicely rested for Getafe, but it wasn’t to be. On the other hand, we’re brimming with confidence and morale, which may make up for the lost energy,” Hoeneß mused.
“We’re always good for a goal or two away from home,” Hitzfeld pointed out. Luca Toni remains the leading scorer in the competition on eight goals. The coach felt Getafe would “keep it very tight and attempt to control the match.” Bayern would need to show patience, “but we also need to be bold. We need to play it our way and try to seize the initiative.”
Van Buyten pulls out
Hoeneß felt the Spaniards, fresh from a goalless draw away to Barcelona at the weekend, “won’t risk going for a 0-0 draw. They’ll want to win it, but we’ve generally managed to score away from home wherever we’ve been this season.” Miroslav Klose’s lively display as a substitute against Bochum appears to have earned him a starting berth alongside Toni. “He showed the reaction I was looking for. He made a big contribution to us turning it around against Bochum,” Hitzfeld observed.
The Bayern boss picks from close on a full squad. Michael Rensing returns to the party after dental surgery, but Daniel van Buyten was a late withdrawal on Wednesday with a knee problem. Breno will fly to Spain as back-up. Hitzfeld is definitely without Hamit Altintop (fractured metatarsal) and Willy Sagnol (fitness).
Some 12 kilometres to the south of the famous Bernabeu, scene of many a might duel with Real Madrid down the years, the Bavarians now face a classic do-or-die situation. “It may be that we need this kind of pressure to reach our full potential,” mused Kahn, “we’re Bayern Munich and won’t wet ourselves at the prospect of travelling to Getafe.” Summoning up the ghosts of past glories, Hitzfeld radiated confidence: “Madrid has always been a happy place for us. I remain convinced we’ll go all the way to the final.”