FCB primed for 'tough challenge' in Lisbon

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Two days before the Champions League quarter-final return away to Benfica the levels of tension and concentration are growing. "Of course there's excitement, even for Bayern," commented sporting director Matthias Sammer at the Säbener Strasse HQ on Monday. The narrow 1-0 victory in the first leg last week was "a good result, but not a comfortable cushion," added Sammer, "a tough challenge awaits us."

Javi Martínez agreed. Benfica have "few weaknesses," according to the Spanish centre-back, and also "one of the best defensive units in Europe. They defend very high up the field, they're aggressive and compact. It's hard to set up sustained passing combinations," Martínez explained. Despite all that the Bavarians will travel to face Lisbon and "try to win the match. That's the mentality at FC Bayern."

Around 24 hours before their departure for the Atlantic seaboard the Bayern stars worked out under Pep Guardiola's auspices in the second to last training session before Wednesday evening's showdown. Fittingly enough, the conditions in Munich on Monday afternoon were almost Mediterranean. Another piece of good news was that Kingsley Coman and Mehdi Benatia took part in the session and will be available for selection in the encounter with the Portuguese record champions.

Cauldron Estádio da Luz

"It's going to be a thrilling return in a superb atmosphere. Everybody has reason to look forward to it," declared Thomas Müller. A 66,000 full house will turn the Estádio da Luz into a cauldron and noisily get behind the hosts. "We're all very, very experienced in terms of atmosphere. We've turned in great performances in the Champions League, so the players aren't nervous when there's a good atmosphere," Philipp Lahm commented.

The FC Bayern skipper is set to make his 103rd appearance in Europe's elite club competition in Lisbon and would catch up with German record-holder Oliver Kahn. "I didn't know that. The mark is nice but ultimately insignificant. It shows that I've played at a very high level for years," Lahm declared in an interview with kicker magazine.

The only thing that counts for the German record champions on Wednesday is to advance to the semi-finals. A draw would be sufficient for Munich, but the Bayern camp refused to listen to such calculations. "If we score a goal we have a very good chance of making the semi-finals. I have no doubt," said Lahm. Martínez added: "FC Bayern aim to go through to the final, so we have to win everything."


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