FC Bayern looking forward to CL opener away to Benfica
FC Bayern got off to a good start to the Bundesliga and the DFB Cup, and now the Bavarians aim to have a successful start on the international stage. 141 days after the unlucky semi-final exit against Real Madrid, the German record champions start this year's Champions League group stage away to Portuguese runners-up Benfica on Wednesday.
"We're glad it starts again. The Champions League is a special competition of course, you start from scratch there," Manuel Neuer said after the home victory over Bayer Leverkusen, looking ahead to the match at the Estádio da Luz. "It surely won't be easy away to Benfica. We'll have to give it everything."
Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, who made 85 appearances for FC Bayern in Europe's elite club competition, can hardly wait to cross swords with European top teams. "We're all fired up. The Champions League is special for all of us, for every player, but also for us. We're looking forward to it," said the 2001 Champions League winner.
The Champions League opener will take Renato Sanches back in time. The Portuguese played for Benfica from 2008 to 2016. Sanches made the breakthrough there, becoming a pro and national team player. When Bayern and Benfica last met in the 2015/16 quarter-finals, he played the full 90 minutes in each of the two matches wearing the Benfica kit. On Wednesday he might make his first appearance against his former club.