Created on 28-07-2009 at 00:00 AM
In a veritable who's who of world football, Intercontinental Cup-winning foursome AC Milan, Manchester United, Boca Juniors and hosts Bayern contest the Audi Cup 2009 at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday and Thursday, but the stakes for Louis van Gaal and his team are far higher than simply adding another piece of silverware to the already glittering Säbener Strasse trophy cabinet.
For Munich, the real significance of the prestige event is as a final dress rehearsal for Sunday's DFB Cup first round tie away to Neckarelz. "We've only had three and a half weeks in pre-season. I'm piecing a team together, so I have to regard the tournament as a warm-up for Sunday," explained van Gaal: "Sunday is the more important game." In that match, Bayern intend to make the second round convincingly against their sixth-tier opponents.
All change in Milan
Wednesday's semi-finals in the Audi Cup, staged to mark the centenary of FCB's premium automotive partner, feature Bayern against Milan and United against Boca. Some 70 reporters turned out to hear all four coaches address a news conference at the official team hotel, the Westin Grand Munich Arabellapark, on Tuesday afternoon.
"We're just back from a tour of the USA and my players are certainly a little weary. But we're delighted to be taking part in this high-quality tournament," said Milan coach Leonardo. The Brazilian goes into his first season as Rossoneri boss without superstar Kaka, who was allowed to leave for Real Madrid in the summer. "We're rebuilding here in Milan, but even without Kaka we have a good team," said Leonardo, who has succeeded Chelsea-bound Carlo Ancelloti.
90 minutes each for Butt and Rensing