'Important start': Bayern's record streak on Champions League Matchday 1.

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When the group stage of the Champions League was drawn at the end of August, Hasan Salihamidžić already offered a good tip as to how his team could hold their own in the thoroughly demanding preliminary round which features opponents Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Pilsen: "The start is always important," explained the board member for sport, describing an obvious but above all significant detail of Munich's recipe for success in the elite club competition this millennium.

Check out the Bavarians' winning streak at the start of the Champions League:

18 opening victories in a row in the Champions League

The German champions have won all of their past 18 opening matches in Europe's most important club competition - a record no other team have achieved - and have always reached at least the Round of 16 since the start of this streak, with the momentum of a victory on the first matchday propelling them to further success. Bayern's last false start in the competition came in September 2002, when they lost 3-2 at home to Deportivo La Coruña and were later eliminated from Europe at the first hurdle for the only time in the club's history. Of course, the Bavarians have also done more than passably in the Champions League despite an opening defeat - in 1998/99, after a 2-1 loss at Brøndby IF, they went all the way to the final. But why change a concept that has worked so well in the past?

Opening games for FC Bayern in the Champions League
Bayern's most recent 18 Champions League openers at a glance.

Müller is Bayern's top starter

"The opening game is very important in such a group stage for the mood and for later games, in order not to get under pressure," explained Thomas Müller, looking ahead to Wednesday evening (21.00 CEST) in Milan, where the Bavarians will open this year's Champions League season at Internazionale. The Bayern veteran knows what he is talking about: with his strike in last year's 3-0 win against FC Barcelona, Müller has now contributed eight goals to Bayern's opening streak, which also makes him Munich's most successful early starter in the top flight.

In addition to Barcelona, other well-known clubs have also experienced the Bavarian opening-match strength in recent years: AS Roma (2-0 H/2010), Manchester City (1-0 H/2014), Benfica (2-0 A/2018) and Atlético Madrid (4-0 H/2020). However, not only the streak itself is impressive, but also the margins that have secured the victories: FCB's goal difference on Matchday 1 of the Champions League is an incredible 45 scored to only two conceded since 2003, and 16-0 in the eight away games. Since then, Bayern have only conceded goals against Celtic (2-1 in 2003) and Valencia (2-1/2012) on Matchday 1. Long may it continue...

Here are more facts and figures about the game against Inter: