Created on 13-03-2018 at 13:00 PM
Europe and Asia, the Middle Ages and the Orient, tradition and the modern age all in one city: that's Istanbul. The metropolis of 15 million straddling the Bosphorus strait is where FC Bayern can seal their place in the Champions League quarter-finals. "The door is wide open but we have to take it seriously and go through tomorrow," said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on Tuesday morning before the squad departed for the 40-hour trip to Turkey. The last sixteen second leg away to Besiktas kicks off on Wednesday evening (live ticker from 18.00 CET / 20.00 local time).
Bayern already have one foot in the quarter-finals after the 5-0 victory in the first leg three weeks ago, an advantage that has yet to be overturned in European Cup history. "We still have to give it everything. It'll be a fiery contest," said Niklas Süle, remembering RB Leipzig's match away to Besiktas. The Bundesliga runners-up lost 2-1 at the Vodafone Park cauldron in the group stage.
Munich face both the Turkish champions, who have lost only one of their last 20 European home matches, and intimidating passion from the stands. Rummenigge remembers FC Bayern's only match away to Besiktas in November 1997, a 2-0 victory. "It was pretty loud," recounted the chairman: "But I think to a certain extent it'll be up to us to calm it down tomorrow. If we play well it'll perhaps be noisy at the beginning but a bit calmer after that."
FCB without Robben
The Bavarians expect the hosts to be buoyed by their home crowd. "I think they'll up the pressure. We're ready for it," said Sven Ulreich, defining Bayern's approach: "Concede no goals and score one as quickly as possible. We have to be fully focused."
Coach Jupp Heynckes has 19 players at his disposal in Istanbul. Apart from Manuel Neuer (broken metatarsal), Kingsley Coman (syndesmosis injury) and Corentin Tolisso (bruised shin), Arjen Robben also stayed in Munich. "A precaution. He's tweaked a nerve," Rummenigge revealed. Besiktas are likely to be without both centre-backs from the first leg. Vida saw a red card in Munich, whereas Pepe is rated highly doubtful with a broken toe.
Nobody at FC Bayern doubts that Heynckes and his team will take the final step to the quarter-finals. "Nothing can happen. I'm not worried," said president Uli Hoeneß. Rummenigge commented: "Considering our displays despite the big advantage in the Bundesliga, we have nothing to worry about. None of our players will lack the necessary commitment away to Besiktas." The FCB chairman referred to the "incredible strength of character" that has helped the team clock up numerous successes over the last few years: "I admire that."
After the match the Bavarians will head home as quickly as possible. They will forgo the traditional banquet and be back in Munich only six hours after the final whistle. "Our coach wanted to return quickly," said Rummenigge. Heynckes aims to prepare the team as best he can for Sunday's Bundesliga match away to Leipzig. The Bavarians hope they will walk through another open door on Sunday as - results permitting - they could seal the championship title.