presented by
Full focus required

Stuttgart in the cup, Cluj in Europe

Increase font size Text size

Mario Gomez was kept busy answering his mobile phone on Sunday evening. Following the draw for the DFB Cup Round of 16, he received “quite a few texts”, the striker revealed on Monday. They were from former team-mates, as the draw means a reunion for the Germany international with his ex-club Stuttgart. “It's a tough draw, they’re the best of all the teams left in it,” said the 25-year-old, scorer of 11 goals in as many cup appearances for VfB between 2001 and 2008. “But we’re aiming to win the cup, so we have to go to Stuttgart and win.” The match will be played just before Christmas on 21 or 22 December.

In fact, Bayern have an excellent record against their southern rivals. It will be FCB’s eighth cup meeting with VfB, and the men from Munich have won six of the previous seven clashes. Furthermore, the solitary cup defeat came 21 years ago, a 3-0 last sixteen reverse back in 1989.

Cluj on Wednesday

The most recent knockout cup meeting was in January 2009, when Gomez netted Stuttgart’s consolation in a thumping 5-1 win to Bayern. “We’ll be happy enough if we can repeat that,” said Andreas Ottl, who played a half of the match in question. However, the midfielder warned, it was unlikely to be as easy this time round. “Stuttgart are tough opponents, especially if they’re at home.”

That also applies to CFR Cluj, who entertain Bayern in the Champions League on Wednesday. A win would guarantee Munich a place in the knockout stages. “But some people are underestimating Cluj,” noted Gomez. In the first leg at the Allianz Arena two weeks ago, Bayern squeezed to a 3-2 victory over the Romanian double winners, more than aided and abetted by two own goals from the visitors.

Full concentration

“We’ve been warned,” said Philipp Lahm, “as we saw, if you fail to concentrate 100 percent, they’re dangerous opponents.” However, Ottl believes the task is within Bayern’s reach. “Despite what’s been said, they’re a team we can beat away from home.” Gomez, who contributed a goal to the first leg victory and also has form in terms of scoring against Romanian sides – he struck a brace for Stuttgart in a 2-1 UEFA Cup group stage victory over Rapid Bucharest in 2005-6 – spelled out FCB’s target clearly and concisely: “We’re going to Cluj looking to win.”