Created on 16-09-2013 at 16:09 PM
The memories still seem so fresh: Arjen Robben accelerating onto Franck Ribéry's neat backheel and skipping his way around the Dortmund defenders. The ball trundling agonisingly slowly over the line with the final whistle just a couple of minutes away. The unconfined joy, the tears of delight, the moment that Philipp Lahm lifted the famous trophy into the skies. There followed a long night of wild celebration, the crowning glory of the Champions League final in London, now carved for ever in the Bayern annals. Exactly 115 days after the glorious triumph, it all starts again from scratch when the holders open their campaign in the 2013/14 Champions League group stage at home to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday (Live in English from 8.45 pm CET on fcbayern.de free Web Radio).
“It's the finest competition of the season," Pep Guardiola declared at the obligatory international press conference on Monday. Manuel Neuer is hoping FCB can carry the momentum of the Super Cup triumph against Chelsea into the European season. “It was a good start to the international competitions. It's very good for us to go into the Champions League group stage with the experienced gained from that match," said the Munich keeper.
Guardiola takes his place in the Bayern dugout in the Champions League for the first time on Tuesday evening, and Bastian Schweinsteiger is hopeful of not sitting next to the boss. The vice-captain has recovered from a tiresome ankle injury, although Guardiola declined to risk him in Saturday's Bundesliga meeting with Hannover. “But he's much better now," the head coach revealed. The only men definitely out on Tuesday are Javi Martinez, Thiago, Mario Götze and Holger Badstuber.
Motivated by Wembley triumph
Opponents CSKA are by no means to be underestimated, as they won the Russian double last season and are undefeated so far this term. “It'll be complex. They’re a physically strong team," warned Guardiola. Russian teams can be extremely dangerous at this early stage of the season, as the domestic league begins in mid-July and clubs have plenty of games already under their belt.
“They have good individuals, but their greatest strength is unity and determined team play," commented captain Lahm. Bayern naturally intend to counter that with their own well-known strengths, “and make sure we take three points straight away," commented Toni Kroos, “we laid the foundations for last year's success in the group stage." Nor have the players forgotten just how much 25 May 2013 meant to them, the club and the fans. “We know how good it was," said Neuer, “and we've set our sights on the same target."