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'Like a final'

Stars fired up for United task

When it comes to gut feelings there is apparently little difference between ordinary fans and star footballers at the moment. “Yes, I’ve got a few butterflies in my stomach,” confirmed Jérôme Boateng, describing the mix of anticipation and tension felt by Bayern supporters everywhere with two days to go until the Champions League quarter-final return against Manchester United. “It’s like a final,” Boateng declared.

Pep Guardiola put his men through their paces in two training sessions on Monday. “Every player is already focused on Wednesday. We’re all concentrating very hard in training,” revealed Boateng. Following the 1–1 draw in the first leg, a goalless stalemate would be enough to see Bayern into the semi-finals. However, the centre-back said, FCB would never play for that result: “We shouldn’t aim for a goalless draw, and we don’t want to either.“

“We’ll play to win, obviously,” agreed Mario Götze. “We’re utterly determined to win, score goals and play our football. It’s been our hallmark this season and we want something similar on Wednesday.” However, the reigning English Premier League champions managed to stifle Bayern’s dangerous attacking play at Old Trafford by parking the bus in defence. A repeat performance can be expected, and Guardiola is working hard on finding solutions.

Confident and focused

“We need to be even more determined and committed in the final third,” commented Götze, “and if they do let their guard drop, we need to get forward at speed and use any space that opens up. That’ll be the decisive factor on Wednesday.“ Boateng fully expects United to come to Munich and defend: “As before they’ll try and get at us on the counter-attack and at set plays. We need just a little more pace, we need to get our crosses in a little quicker, and we should sometimes try our luck with shots from long range.“

Neither Boateng nor Götze really believes reports from England claiming Wayne Rooney will miss out with a bruised toe. “But if it’s true, it would certainly be a big loss for United,” agreed Boateng: “Wayne Rooney is the key man for United. He always makes himself available, he goes looking for the ball, he takes the free-kicks and corners, and he’s always good for a goal.“

However, the question of Rooney’s fitness is secondary at best for Bayern. “We know what we’re capable of, and we also know we’ll need a very, very good performance on Wednesday if we’re to go through,” remarked Boateng. Götze thinks the immediate priority is to focus hard in training: “Every one of us is looking forward to it.” That goes not just for the players but for fans all over the world.