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Trio doubtful

FCB wary of ‘magnificent’ Arsenal

History and famous fictional references abound in London. 221B Baker Street, home of master detective Sherlock Holmes, lies just a stone’s throw from Bayern’s team hotel. Madame Tussauds wax museum is a couple of doors further away. And Wembley Stadium, scene of Bayern’s greatest triumph of the last 14 years, is quarter of an hour away by Tube.

However, on the eve of Tuesday’s Champions League meeting away to Arsenal (Live in English from 20:45 CET on Twitter and free Web Radio), no-one in the Munich camp was thinking about the past. “We won the Champions League in London, but we have to put that out of our minds,” said Javi Martínez, “the only thing we can be thinking about is winning. It’s an important match. We have a chance of making qualification all but a certainty. That’s why we have to give it everything.”

The 2013 winners lead Group F with the maximum six points after scoring eight goals and conceding none. By contrast, Arsenal are still to register a single point, although no-one at Bayern is deceived by the Gunners’ surprisingly poor start. “They have magnificent players and a magnificent team. We need a top-class performance,” Xabi Alonso declared shortly before pre-match training at the Emirates Stadium on Monday evening.

Doubts over Costa, Coman and Martínez

“We’re not through yet and we face a battle with one of the best teams in Europe,” said Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard thinks the Premier League side will play with great aggression: “Arsenal will try and put us under pressure from the off. We have to be prepared for that.” The standings are immaterial in the build-up to a match, the coach insisted: “I never look at the table when I analyse a team. I have to analyse Arsenal as if they too had six points. They have great quality and skill and they’re tough to play against.”

The selection situation for Tuesday is also tough, for although Douglas Costa, Kingsley Coman and Martínez have all flown to London, the trio face fitness tests on the day of the match, Guardiola announced. “I’ll pick my starting line-up after lunch tomorrow.”

‘Turf like a living room carpet’

Regardless of which group of players takes the field, Bayern are determined to record a 13th competitive victory on the bounce. “Our stats are good, we’re in great shape and we’re very confident,” observed Thomas Müller, “it’s a superb stadium and there’s not much difference between the turf and a living room carpet. We’re all looking forward to it, but it won’t be a stroll.” The striker is expecting a “very close but highly watchable match. Both teams are full of attacking spirit.”

Müller has faced Arsenal in London twice before, scoring and winning on each occasion. “You go out there with a good feeling,” the 26-year-old said, “but happy memories don’t guarantee I’ll score. I’ll have to work very hard for a goal.” The past will take care of itself, but Bayern are looking to make history in the present.