presented by
‘Showdown for first place'

FCB aim ‘to avoid defeat at all costs'

FC Bayern are back on English soil. On Tuesday afternoon, exactly 129 days after the Champions League triumph at Wembley, the treble winners landed in Manchester, some 300 kilometres north-west of London. The current Kings of Europe play their first away match of this season’s Champions League on Wednesday evening (Live in English from 8.45 pm CET on free Web Radio), and it will be potentially the toughest of the Champions League group stage.

“The away match in England will be a hard one for us, and very important for our goal of finishing top of the group,” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “It’s going to be a difficult match, maybe even a first-place decider. We cannot lose this game.”

Bayern travel to Manchester riding a wave of confidence after winning their last five competitive matches, including the 3-0 opening day victory in the Champions League against CSKA Moscow. The German giants feel prepared for a “hard, hard fight” (Dante) against last season’s Premier League runners-up.

The current European champions know they are the team to beat: “Everyone in Europe wants to beat us. Maybe that’s the reason no team has ever managed to retain their status as Champions League winners,” Rummenigge mused. “We’ll try and make the impossible possible.”

The game in Manchester should provide clues as to where Bayern stand compared to other top teams in Europe. The Blues are considered Bayern's main rivals in Group D. “Manchester have a lot of options, especially when attacking. On top of that, they have a very experienced coach,” Rummenigge said, “after being knocked out in the group stage twice in a row, they’ll put in their best effort to get through this year.”

The Sheik-funded club located in the east of Manchester invested heavily in their team in the summer and appointed Manuel Pellegrini as their head coach. “They have a quality side, especially their attacking line-up, and they’re a very physical team,” Arjen Robben reported. Manchester City have scored the most goals in the current Premier League season (14 in six matches) and started their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win away to Viktoria Plzen. “I think they’re better prepared compared to previous seasons,” Rummenigge said.

Jérôme Boateng, who played for the English side in 2010/11, issued a warning about his former club: “Manchester are more of a team compared to the last few seasons, when they were a bunch of great individuals.” Bayern will require a “top performance” (Dante) to succeed. However, Munich are confident they can return to Germany with a good result. “Manchester also have players capable of extremely good football. So I think we’ll have opportunities to play our game,” Robben commented.