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Bayern’s Group F rivals

Old foes, The Mastiffs, and serial champions

Eleven years after Bayern beat Valencia on penalties to win the Champions League in 2001, the teams come face-to-face again in the group stage of the 2012/13 competition. The Reds have met the Spaniards three times in the Champions League so far, but have never before played OSC Lille, who finished third in Ligue 1 last term, or serial Belarus champions BATE Borisov. profiles the Group F rivals.

Valencia finished third in La Liga behind Real Madrid and Barcelona last season, although they were 39 and 30 points respectively off the top two. Valencia’s perennial problem is servicing a long-standing debt on a stadium reconstruction project, so they are a selling club nowadays. Jordi Alba left for Barcelona and midfielder Mehmet Topal for Fenerbahce in big-money transfers this summer, with Pablo Hernandez bound for Swansea City in the Premier League.

In 2010/11 the club lost David Villa to Barca and David Silva to Manchester City, with Juan Mata leaving for Chelsea the following year. That doesn’t mean boss Mauricio Pellegrino is without talented players: striker Roberto Soldado has scored in both league games so far, a 1-1 away draw with Real Madrid and a 3-3 stalemate against Deportivo La Coruna. Summer signings include Aly Cissokho from Lyon and Sergio Canales from Real. Former Bundesliga striker Nelson Valdez also plays for Valencia.

The most recent meeting was the 2001 final in Milan, settled in FCB’s favour by Olli Kahn’s penalty shootout heroics. All three Champions League games between the clubs have ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. As for the Mediterranean city itself, Valencia is situated on the Costa del Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast) in the east of Spain, some 320 kilometres south-east of Madrid. The club’s 53,939 capacity Mestalla stadium is scheduled to be replaced by the multi-purpose Nou Mestalla in the next few years.