Created on 28-08-2008 at 00:00 AM
Bayern have been drawn in a tough but manageable Champions League group F with Olympique Lyon, Steaua Bucharest and Fiorentina.
Serial French champions Lyon pose the biggest threat to Munich's progress, although the German champions will be happy enough to have avoided the likes of Manchetser United, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, all potential opponents at this stage of the competition.
Steaua are previous winners of the European Champions Cup, while the meetings with the men from Florence have huge emotional significance for striker Luca Toni, who switched from the Italian Serie A giants to Bayern a year ago.
Klinsmann wary but confident
"Plenty could happen in this group,“ Jürgen Klinsmann mused in a first reaction after watching the draw in the Auditorium at the Säbener Strasse. "The meeting with Florence has an edge because of Luca Toni, and Lyon are a big name,“ Klinsmann continued. "It'll be a very, very close affair, but we're really looking forward to the Champions League.“
Board director Karl Hopfner, who spent his birthday representing the club at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, will have been not dissatisfied as he began discussions with officials from Bayern's forthcoming opponents in the scheduling session following the draw proper. Bayern have avoided the very biggest names in the continental game, but Lyon and Fiorentina will certainly push the German double winners to the limit. Klinsmann also warned that Bucharest are capable of "very good football“.
"No-one should underestimate the difficulty of this group. Lyon, Bucharest and Florence are hard to play against, big clubs in their home countries,“ sagte chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "I'm looking forward to the matches, and I'm confident we'll make the next stage.“
"The duel with Fiorentina is obviously a cracker for Luca Toni and the fans here and in Italy,“ Rummenigge continued, excited at the prospect of the first-ever meeting between the Bavarians and the Florentine cracks. Bayern have played Olympique Lyon often enough but hardly harbour happy memories of those occasions. An embarrassing 3-0 capitulation in 2000-2001 prompted club President Franz Beckenbauer into a legendary explosion of rage at the post-match banquet. That team went on to win the Champions League in Milan against Valencia.
"I'd rather have played one of the really big teams like Chelsea, Manchester or Arsenal, and certainly not Lyon. I know from my own experience how good they are, and how difficult they are to beat,“ offered Franck Ribéry, looking forward with mixed feelings to the meeting with his fellow-countrymen.
Opener in Bucharest
Bayern open their European campaign on 17 September with a trip to Romanian big-hitters Steaua. The programme features an Oktoberfest home meeting with Lyon on 30 September, before Fiorentina visit the Allianz Arena three weeks later on 21. October. The return in Florence is on 5 November, FCB entertain Steaua on 25 November, and finish the group stage on 10 December in Lyon.