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Ribéry misses City clash

'There’s no better game for starters'

Sounds put together in the right order can be very powerful. They make hearts beat faster, bring a tear to the eye - and when the Champions League anthem rings out across the Allianz Arena just before 20.45 CET on Wednesday the players on the pitch and the fans in the stands or watching the game at home on TV will get goose bumps. “The hunger, the anticipation are massive,” said Philipp Lahm in describing the mood at FC Bayern ahead of the first Champions League night in 141 days. “It’s just brilliant being able to measure yourself against the best players. There’s nothing bigger in club football.”

The opposition are certainly playing their part. Manchester City. Champions of England. Full of star players: David Silva, Sergio Agüero, Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri, Yaya Touré, Frank Lampard, Vincent Kompany... “We’re playing against a top side. All their players are outstanding,” said Guardiola. “There’s no better game for starters,” said Jérôme Boateng, who can hardly wait for the kick-off. The former Citizen goes into the game “with bags of confidence: We’re at home and we want to build on last weekend’s win.”

Lessons from last term

Lahm sees Man City as “probably the biggest threat in our group.” That was certainly the case last season when the Citizens came back from two goals down in Munich to win 3-2 and finish second to FCB by a whisker. “I know what happened here at the Allianz Arena last season,” said Guardiola, “we’ve learned our lesson: We’ll have problems if we don’t defend against them with eleven men.”

Stability at the back is seen as the key to success as Lahm draws the conclusion from last year’s clash with the English champions: “If we ease off Manchester City will show their class.” Guardiola put forward his recipe for success on Wednesday: “We’ve got to control the game through possession. And if we don’t have the ball we’ll have to run and run.”

In addition to Man City, FC Bayern face AS Roma and CSKA Moscow in Group E. “I don’t know if there could be a more evenly balanced group,” said Matthias Sammer as he described the group stage as “a tough challenge. We’ve got to battle, fight and be solid.”

Ribéry sidelined, Robben trains

There is further bad news on the personnel front ahead of the Champions League opener. Franck Ribéry, who crowned his 20-minute season debut with a goal in the 2-0 win against VfB Stuttgart at the weekend, is sidelined with another knee ligament problem. Holger Badstuber is also ruled out again. “We don’t need to moan but instead go out and play,” added Lahm, “we’ve still got a team full of quality. We need to show that tomorrow.”

And there is also some good news ahead of the kick-off tomorrow. Arjen Robben, who missed out against Stuttgart with knee problems, took part in the final training session and the Dutchman could return to the squad. New signing Medhi Benatia is also making good progress reported Guardiola: “He’s trained really well over the past few days. I’m very happy with him.”

FCB have reached the semi-finals at least in four out of the previous five Champions League campaigns. In spite of continuing injury concerns FCB have every reason to go into the new Champions League season in confident mood. “No worries, no jitters but rather anticipation and the conviction we can pick up three points tomorrow,” said Lahm in sounding the clarion call for the opener against Man City. The Champions League Final is in Berlin on 6 June 2015 - music to the ears of FC Bayern...