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Boateng to start?

Determined FCB ‘prepared for everything’

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After the Bayern party landed in Madrid on Tuesday afternoon prior to the Champions League semi-final first leg against Atlético, the programme for the evening was not unduly arduous: transfer to the team hotel, check-in, a period of rest, an evening meal, and mental preparation. Before then, Pep Guardiola, Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso took a minor but compulsory excursion to the Estadio Vicente Calderón, where 150 media representatives from all over the globe attended the pre-match press conference. The FCB trio were visibly determined and excited as they looked forward to what everyone connected with the club hopes will be a triumphant Champions League night on Wednesday (Live in English from 20:45 CET on Twitter and free Web Radio).

“Reaching the semi-finals is always wonderful and not something you can take for granted,” said club captain Lahm, “there are no favourites. Details and form on the day decide matches at this exceptionally high level. Both games will be close. I think the tie won’t be decided until the return.” Alonso is also expecting a tense encounter. Everyone is aware of Atlético’s strengths and the FCB stars have been treated to intensive analyses over the last few days, the midfielder declared, “but we’re ready, We’re determined to reach the final.”

Naturally, that is a goal shared by Guardiola, especially in the light of Bayern’s failure to progress beyond the last four in both previous seasons. However, nothing can be cast in stone, the coach said: “Atlético are on a par with Barcelona and Real Madrid. They defend very well, but there’s more to it than that. Their pressing is good, they counter-attack well and they’re very flexible. But I’m still relatively relaxed.”

FCB aim for away goal

Guardiola is glad that Jérôme Boateng has returned. Three months on the sidelines are a long time, “but he's very experienced, he has great character,” the Catalan said, declining to rule out a return to the starting line-up for the Germany international. “Jérôme is one of the best centre-backs in the world. We'll see, we'll decide at short notice,” added the FCB head coach.

Lahm will definitely make the starting line-up. The FCB skipper stressed the importance of an away goal. “We didn't manage that in the semi-finals in the last few years. It would put us in a better position to go through at home,” the 32-year-old commented. Lahm added that Bayern must not let the special atmosphere at the Estadio Vicente Calderón knock them out of their stride: “We know what can happen here. We mustn't be concerned with the surroundings, but keep calm. We're prepared for everything!”