Created on 02-04-2008 at 00:00 AM
The UEFA Cup is the focus this week as Bayern continue their quest for a triple trophy haul. “We’ve set ourselves the target of reaching the final,” Ottmar Hitzfeld declared ahead of Thursday evening’s quarter-final first leg at home to Getafe CF (Live in English from 8.30 pm on FCB.tv Web Radio ). Hoping for a decent result to defend in the return next week, the Bayern boss demanded a better display than last Saturday’s draw in Nürnberg. “We have to improve by 30 percent. These are the games where we have to go to the limit.“
Hitzfeld is extremely wary of the side lying 12th in Spain’s La Liga. “It won’t simply take care of itself. Getafe are a top Spanish club,” he warned, pointing to victories away to Real Madrid (1-0) and at home to Barcelona (2-0) this term. Furthermore, Michael Laudrup’s men have made it to the Spanish Cup final for the second season in a row, and have acquitted themselves well in their debut European campaign. The men from suburban Madrid finished top of their UEFA Cup group ahead of Tottenham and Anderlecht, before breezing past AEK Athens and Benfica in the knock-out stages.
Tough but manageable
“It can’t be an accident and it tells you everything about their quality,” opined Hitzfeld. The Bayern stars are well aware of Getafe’s track record this term. “They’ll be the hardest opponents we’ve faced so far,” Bastian Schweinsteiger warned, a sentiment echoed by Franck Ribéry: “They’ll be very hard to beat.“
For all that, Bayern are brimming with confidence. “We’re at home and we’re favourites,” insisted Schweinsteiger. “It’s a tough but manageable task,” summarised Hitzfeld. FCB scouts have observed the Spaniards on four occasions, reporting a hard-running, technically able, disciplined, well-organised and aggressive team, “with a portion of belief and excitement,” Hitzfeld added. Chief scout Wolfgang Dremmler also noted Getafe’s strength at set-pieces and on the break.
Schweinsteiger for Altintop?
But Laudrup’s men are far from unbeatable. “They have a few problems in defence, and we should exploit that,” commented Hitzfeld, calling on his team to tackle early and attack down the flanks. “We have to find the right balance between attack and solid defence,” the coach said.
“We’re aiming to win while keeping a clean sheet,” offered Schweinsteiger, reckoning the men in red would need to be patient. “Getafe won’t necessarily come here looking to win,” he felt, “finding the gaps won’t be easy. It might be that nothing happens until after the 70th minute.“ Hitzfeld declined to say whether Schweinsteiger would definitely feature against the Spaniards, “although Bastian has a good chance of playing,” he revealed.
Van Bommel doubtful
Otherwise, José Ernesto Sosa could stand in for the injured Hamit Altintop in right midfield. Mark van Bommel missed final training with the flu and is a major doubt. “He’s not 100 percent better,” Hitzfeld reported, “and I don’t pick players who aren’t totally fit.“
Munich urgently require a good result at home ahead of next week’s return at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez in Getafe, a difficult place to visit, according to Ribéry’s Spain-based France team-mates. What would be a decent score at the Allianz Arena? “1-0 would be good, 2-0 or 3-0 would be perfect,“ Lucio declared.