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Down to business

‘Bayern group’ in Euro 2012 qualifying

There was a fair amount of good-natured ribbing in the Bayern dressing room after the draw for Euro 2012 qualifying in February. As of now, it is no longer a laughing matter, as Friday sees the first round of matches in a group featuring a host of FCB men. Germany contingent Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller, Holger Badstuber, Mario Gomez and Toni Kroos open the hostilities on Friday against Belgium’s Daniel van Buyten.

It is merely the first of a series of all-Munich clashes en route to the 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine. Aside from Germany and the Belgians, Turkey (with Hamit Altintop) and Austria (with David Alaba) were also drawn in Group A. Four of the six teams in the section thus feature Bayern team-mates, all keen to take points off each other in the fight for a place at the finals.

When Belgium meet Germany on Friday evening in Brussels, the spotlight falls on “Big Dan”, as 1.97 metre stopper Daniel van Buyten is known in his country of birth. The centre-back’s mother actually hails from Hannover, and mum and her boy both supported Germany during the World Cup in South Africa. “I wanted Germany to win it, because of my mother, and just because I did anyway. I sympathised strongly,” Daniel revealed.

First Germany, then Turkey

The game against his adopted home country is a special occasion for Van Buyten, partly because he will face so many of his Munich team-mates. He may even find himself marking Klose. “It’ll be very tough against Germany. They’re really strong at the moment,” he admitted, although he feels the home team could spring a surprise. “We have a young, very talented squad and we’re determined to feature at a major tournament again soon, so we’ll need a good start.” The Red Devils last appeared on a major stage at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.