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Robben & Co primed

Bayern aim to take ‘big step’

Rome is one of the great tourist destinations of the world. Crowds of visitors marvel at the antique structures, imposing fountains, churches on every street corner, the magnificent Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Vatican and St Peter's, the Spanish Steps and the incomparable museums. However, the only memories of all these glories the Bayern stars will take home are a few glimpses through the windows of the team bus. “We're here to work and not as a group of tourists,” declared Thomas Müller on the eve of Tuesday's Champions League meeting away to AS Roma (Live in English from 20:45 / 8.45 pm CET on Twitter and Free Web Radio). “We're looking for a good performance and that's our focus.”

Pep Guardiola, who himself pulled on a Giallorossi shirt back in 2003, also had no time for La Dolce Vita. “Rome is a beautiful city. I was here for six months and it was good,” the head coach told the pre-match press conference, before moving swiftly on to the here and now: “We have a huge opportunity and we can take a big step forward tomorrow.”

AS Roma versus Bayern Munich pits the side lying second in Group E on four points against the leaders on six. The Bavarians want the situation to be much the same when the sides meet again in the return two weeks from now. “We're in a perfect position. If we win both matches, we'll go through,” observed Guardiola, “but that's also true for Roma.”

Not typically Italian

Müller described the venerable Stadio Olimpico as a “cauldron" and predicted a close encounter. Arjen Robben agreed: “Roma are our toughest rivals at the moment. They're playing the best football in Italy at the present time.” Francesco Totti and his troops have won all five of their home games so far this term and lie second in Serie A. “They have lots of quality and they don't play typically Italian football. They’re enjoyable to watch,” commented Robben.

“Especially as a forward, you relish playing a team who are unlikely to pull all 11 men back to their own penalty area,” said Müller, hoping to find more space than normal in the final third. However, the Reds defence will almost certainly have more work to do than in recent Bundesliga matches – the 6-0 win over Bremen, 4-0 against Hannover, 2-0 in Cologne, and 4-0 against Paderborn. “We'll have to give it everything we've got,” confirmed Manuel Neuer, who has now gone 748 minutes without conceding a goal.

Alaba fit

Roma boss Rudi Garcia promised the men from Munich a tough fight: “We'll do everything we can to make it difficult for FC Bayern. We're hungry and determined to put in a magnificent performance. The stadium will be on fire.” Garcia has lost midfielder Seydou Keita to injury but will otherwise field a full strength team spearheaded by local legend Totti.

For the visitors, David Alaba has declared himself fit. Franck Ribéry, fresh from a 30 minute comeback in the league at the weekend, has also not arrived in the Eternal City as a tourist. “If we play the way we’re capable of playing, we have a good chance of coming away from Rome with three points and taking a big step in the right direction,” declared Philipp Lahm. Robben can hardly wait for kick off: “We're definitely ready for these two games. We'll be up for it and well prepared.”