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Saison starts in Erfurt

'We’re Bayern, so we’re favourites’

The gruelling pre-season period comes to an end on Sunday when Bayern contest the first official fixture of the new campaign. “You sense we’re looking forward to it,” reported Jürgen Klinsmann ahead of his first competitive match in charge, although the coach had a warning for his men: “We’ll be measured on results from now on.“ Rot-Weiß Erfurt provide the opposition in the first round of the DFB German Cup, evoking memories of FCB’s almighty scare away to Burghausen at the same stage last term.

“We want to avoid the drama we went through in Burghausen,” Klinsmann admonished. Munich were one penalty kick away from elimination to the third division side a year ago. “We’ve been warned,” insisted Philipp Lahm, “we know what’s at stake.“

Professional preparation

Bayern are taking Sunday’s match extremely seriously. “We’ve approached it professionally. We’ve done our homework,” said Klinsmann, who sent Michael Henke to observe Erfurt in third tier league action. “They have three or four very good individuals,” reported Miroslav Klose after viewing the minnows on DVD.

Bayern would travel to the Thuringia state capital “with lots of respect“, Klinsmann remarked. Nevertheless, declared Hamit Altintop, “we’re Bayern, so we’re favourites, and we’ll play like favourites.” Lahm agreed: “I’m assuming we’ll wrap it up in 90 minutes.“

High tempo and taking risks

The 13-times winners know the home side will emulate Burghausen and make life as difficult as possible. “It won’t be easy. Erfurt know full well how to beat a team like Bayern,” warned Franz Beckenbauer. Erfurt boss Karsten Baumann watched Munich’s defeat to Inter at the Allianz Arena, and his side is likely to adopt the ultra-defensive stance successfully deployed by Jose Mourinho last week.

Klinsmann called on his team to break down the home team “with even faster passing. We need to try our luck in one-on-one situations and use the wings.“ Klose hoped for “more courageous balls through the middle“ than against Inter, although it is highly unlikely to be a smooth ride on Sunday. “You can’t expect it all to work perfectly yet. It wouldn’t be normal,” argued Lahm.

Eight stars sidelined

Klinsmann feels his men will effectively still be in pre-season shape until early September. Apart from the late arrivals caused by Euro 2008 call-ups, meaning some of the players have only been training for three weeks, the club is struggling with a host of absentees.

Eight seniors are unavailable to Klinsmann in Erfurt: Luca Toni, Franck Ribéry, Martin Demichelis, Willy Sagnol, Hans Jörg Butt and Tim Borowski are injured, with José Ernesto Sosa and Breno away at the Olympics. Reserves Deniz Yilmaz, Thomas Müller and Holger Badstuber will ensure the Bavarians field a full matchday squad on Sunday.

Erfurt keeper prepared

The lower league outfit are naturally hoping to cause a major upset. “We’ll give it everything against Bayern,” promised coach Baumann, “it’s perfectly possible to beat them – although that can only happen if we have a very good day and they have a stinker.“

Rot-Weiß keeper Dirk Orlishausen has been informed about Bayern’s penalty-taking preferences by assistant coach Heiko Nowak. “I’ve made a mental note of it. We want to do better than Burghausen last year,“ the shot-stopper observed.