‘Hungry’ Bayern head for Porto
The Bayern stars set off for Portugal on Monday afternoon, two days in advance of Wednesday night's Champions League quarter-final first leg against FC Porto (Live in English from 20:45 CET on Twitter and FCB Web Radio). The charter plane with the travelling party on board took off from Munich at around quarter past four in the afternoon, almost a full day earlier than normal for an away fixture in Europe. "We want to prepare and regenerate as well as possible," explained sporting director Matthias Sammer at a Monday lunchtime press conference. "Everyone's aware of our injury situation. We want to pull even closer together."
Sammer confirmed that hopes of a return for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribéry have been dashed. The vice-captain has been unable to shake off a stubborn viral infection and the French winger continues to be troubled by a painful ankle injury. Neither player has travelled to Portugal, meaning both are definitely out of the big European clash. However, Claudio Pizarro has made the trip and Jérôme Boateng also returns to the squad after sitting out the weekend Bundesliga fixture as a precaution, although the centre-back will make his own way to Porto due to a previous engagement. FCB II keeper Ivan Lucic has been added to the 17-strong squad for the midweek showdown.
Sammer's rallying call
Despite the current selection misery, the mood at Bayern remains optimistic. "A small but high-quality group can also generate a great deal of power," said Sammer, "we have complete faith in the players available to us." Thiago started a match for the first time in a year against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, "and he felt extremely good," the sporting director reported, "but we still have to manage the burden on him carefully." The Spaniard is not considered a doubt for the first leg of the tie against Porto.
The 27-time Portuguese champions beat FC Rio Ave 3-1 away from home at the weekend. "We've watched and analysed the match closely. We'll develop our game plan based on that with the aim of coming away from Porto with a good result," said Sammer. "Our approach is to take it very seriously and be perfectly prepared." Porto boss Julen Lopetegui favours an attacking 4-3-3 formation, but Sammer insisted Bayern would be "concentrating on our own strengths." And, the sporting director said with some satisfaction: "The team is hungry."