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Group win beckons

FCB aim to ‘wrap it up’ at home to Roma

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said it was “an unforgettable night” two weeks ago when FC Bayern cruised to a 7-1 win in the Champions League group game at AS Roma to strengthen their impressive grip on Group E. Pep Guardiola’s men can go one better in the return match against the Italian runners-up at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night: Just one point would assure the Reds of a place in the last sixteen with two games to play.

“We can’t afford to let this historic opportunity slip, but that magical night where nearly every shot went in probably won’t be repeated against Roma,” warned club chairman Rummenigge, looking to dampen expectations. At the same time, the former world-class striker expressed a desire to “wrap it up in an enormously tricky group on Wednesday night.” Bayern, with 17 appearances in the knock-out stages from 18 campaigns, top the table with nine points ahead of Roma (4), Manchester City (2) and CSKA Moscow (1).

One hundred percent effort

FCB started the group stage of the Champions League campaign with three wins for the sixth time in a row, and another win would see the Reds become the first German team to win a group after four games. “That would obviously be very special,” declared Arjen Robben. With that target in mind the Reds go into the match on the back of a 15-game unbeaten run “with lots of confidence and the will to win,” added Robben.

The Dutchman and his team-mates are not banking on a repetition of the result in the last match. “It will be a completely different game on Wednesday,” predicted Robben. “It was a great night in Rome for us, but something like that only happens once every couple of years so I’m not expecting it to happen again. It will be difficult and we’ll need to produce a top performance if we’re going to win. We’ve got to be on the case and put in one hundred percent effort.”

Beware of Roma

Robben said the team lying second in Serie A “are still a great team. They’re not a typical Italian side that just sits back. They’ve got a lot of quality on the ball and they want to play football.” Medhi Benatia, on the books at Roma up to the summer, is also expecting “a difficult game” with the Giallorossi looking to make amends for the debacle in the home game. “The 7-1 scoreline will have annoyed the players and we’ll see a different Roma this time. But we’ll be ready.”

“The important thing is to get a win against Roma. Everybody is expecting a goal fest but that’s dangerous,” warned Jérôme Boateng. And Mario Götze added: “They’ll have learned a lot from the first game.” Guardiola, who played for Roma for a season, knows “it will be much tougher than the last game. The players won’t want to experience that again. They’ve got their pride, they love the game and they’re representing their club. They’ll give 100 percent and that will make it harder than in the last match.”

Guardiola has the same squad available as he did for the 2-1 win in the Bundesliga showdown against Borussia Dortmund at the weekend. Roma have a couple of selection problems, as the Brazilian Maicon is again missing with a knee injury. The reserve right back Vasilis Torosidis has a muscle injury and is doubtful. Midfielder Alessandro Florenzi may well have to slot in at the back.