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Wary but confident

FCB aim to shine in Old Trafford showdown

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Off the bus, check in and onto the plane. FC Bayern were in a hurry at Munich Airport. The captain of the Lufthansa flight did not hang around either and the flight took off straight away. England bound! And off to the eagerly-awaited Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester United on Tuesday evening (Live in English from 8.45 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio) “It’ll be a great game. I’m really looking forward to it,” said skipper Philipp Lahm on Monday afternoon – words that will appeal to all Bayern fans.

Three weeks separated the two legs of the Round of 16 tie against Arsenal but now there are just seven days between the first and second legs of the quarter final. The semi-finals will also be played in April. Nobody at FC Bayern is thinking that far ahead at the moment as reigning English champions Manchester United currently stand in the way of the Reds.

“We know we’ll have two difficult games,” declared Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. The Red Devils’ unimpressive form to date this term is not the whole story. “Man United have not been that impressive. But that is exactly the problem,” said the Bayern chairman, “they’re like a groggy boxer who can still hurt an opponent with a well-aimed blow. We aren’t up against second-rate opposition.”

Thiago, Contento and Badstuber sidelined

Pep Guardiola concurred with Rummenigge’s assessment at the pre-match press conference at the team hotel. “I’m aware of their quality. They can beat us over two games. That’s the truth,” noted Bayern’s head coach. Manchester United are still “one of the best teams in the world.” Guardiola issued a rallying call to his men: “We’ve got to show our class.” And Old Trafford is the “perfect place” to do it. Reds’ captain Lahm revealed his confidence ahead of tomorrow’s game : “We don’t just want to score an away goal, we want to win.”

Versatile midfielder Thiago will not be able to help achieve that target. The Spaniard suffered a serious injury against Hoffenheim at the weekend (torn ligament in his right knee). The other squad members who have not made the trip to England are Holger Badstuber (rehab training after cruciate ligament operation), suspended centre-back Dante, and Diego Contento, who picked up an ankle injury in the final pre-match training session in Munich. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is included in the 18-man squad.

The Bayern youngster was beaming from ear to ear on the plane. The more established players were also full of anticipation. Rummenigge said there was “great excitement” at the prospect of playing Manchester United at their famous Old Trafford stadium. And if FC Bayern can carry their rich vein of form in the Bundesliga into the two quarter-final games, “we’ve got a decent chance of making it to the semi-finals,” Rummenigge declared.