Four top teams battle for the Audi Cup 2017
With two and a half weeks to go to the official Bundesliga opening fixture there will be a hint of Champions League action at the Allianz Arena in Munich. This year's Audi Cup sees FC Bayern joined by Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Napoli with four top teams from four of the strongest leagues in Europe battling to win the fifth of this now traditional pre-season tournament.
It's a high quality tournament with strong teams," said Bayern head coach Carlo Ancelotti at the official press conference on Monday where he was joined by the coaches of the other three teams. "It's an important test for us ahead of the first competitive match," added Ancelotti five days before the Super Cup final at DFB Cup winners Borussia Dortmund and he spoke of it being "very significant" for his team.
FCB "a challenge" for Liverpool
FC Bayern take on Liverpool in the second semi-final on Tuesday night (20:30 CET) after Atletico Madrid and Napoli open the tournament (17:45 CET). The two winners meet in the final on Wednesday night with the losers playing for third place. Tickets are still available from the ServiceCenter at Säbener Straße up to 14.00 on matchdays fromOnline Ticketingand from 11.00 at the stadium on matchdays.
Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp is also looking forward to the tournament and, above all, to the test of strength against FC Bayern. "It will definitely be a challenge," said Klopp, whose players are currently preparing for the forthcoming season on Lake Tegernsee. His team will play the two matches at the Allianz Arena following "full training". The Reds are completing up to three sessions a day with the exception of the injured Joe Gomez, Nathaniel Clyne and Divock Origi.
Almost full squad available for Ancelotti
Above all from the match against Bayern ("It is top level") Klopp will be looking to draw the right "conclusions and insights" to ensure his team is fit and ready for the start of the season in 12 days and the important qualification play-offs in the Champions League in two weeks. "It will be important for us tomorrow to see what happens against Bayern. We'll face an absolute top team regardless of who Carlo plays," said Klopp.
Ancelotti almost has the full squad to choose from. All players are available with the exception of Manuel Neuer and Juan Bernat. Frank Ribéry trained with the team again on Monday and Jérôme Boateng and Arjen Robben are both "in good shape," said Ancelotti. The players who took part in the Confed Cup, who only started training again on Saturday, will only be available on Wednesday according to the FCB boss.
Napoli are also involved in the qualifying round for the group stage of the Champions League in two weeks and are also well advanced in their pre-season. "The tournament can be good for us," said coach Maurizio Sarri, "it's important to play against teams of this quality." In Atlético, Napoli are taking on one of the top teams from the Champions League over recent seasons even if this tournament has come early in the pre-season for coach Diego Simeone. "We'll have to find our feet and see where we're up to," said the Argentinian.