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Champions League Matchday 1
Estádio da Luz, Lisbon
Benfica Lissabon
0 : 2
FC Bayern Munich
  • 10' Robert Lewandowski
  • 54' Renato Sanches
  • 10' Robert Lewandowski
  • 54' Renato Sanches
‘Aspiration to win every group game’

Confident Bayern set for CL opener against Benfica

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Here we go again: FC Bayern start the new Champions League campaign with an away game at Benfica on Wednesday night (live in English from 3pm ET on our exclusive ticker). The 21-man squad were highly motivated as they set off for the Portuguese capital on Tuesday morning. They took with them the hope of the start to a really great season in the Champions League. “The dreams start again this year and we’ll obviously do all we can to go as far as we can,” said David Alaba ahead of departure from Munich Airport.

Kovac looking forward to first outing

Europe’s biggest club competition is a highlight for everybody involved – but one person at FC Bayern has very good reason to look forward to hearing the Champions League anthem at the Éstadio da Luz. As a player, Niko Kovac played 17 games in Europe’s elite club competition for Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg SV and FC Bayern but this will be a first time out as coach for the 46-year-old. “It’s an absolute joy,” said the coach about his debut at the pre-match press conference on Tuesday night. For his first game in charge in the Champions League, the Croat is obviously keen to get off to a good start. ”The first game in the group stage is always very important regardless of the competition. It puts you at ease or takes it away. A win would be very important,” according to Kovac.

Kovac can rely on the full support of his players for his debut in Lisbon. “It will definitely be very important for him. We’ll try to get the win for him,”declared the captain Manuel Neuer on Saturday on behalf of his team-mates. And Joshua Kimmich revealed the team is heading for Lisbon with the necessary confidence to face the Portuguese league runners-up. “It’s not easy being away in Lisbon but it’s our aspiration to win every group match,” said the 23-year-old full-back.

Goretzka on board

In spite of all the confidence, nobody at the German record champions wants to taking anything for granted for tomorrow’s match. “It won’t be an easy game. We’ve not come here with any arrogance but we are confident and we hope to win the match,” said Kovac. The Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was in full agreement: “We are justifiably the favourites,” but “it’s not a foregone conclusion. I warn against underestimating this group,” declared the 62-year-old.

Even more important was the good news in terms of personnel ahead of the Champions League opener. Leon Goretzka was able to travel to Lisbon after suffering a knock in the Monday morning training session as were the two stalwarts Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, who sat out full training the day before the flight to Lisbon. That means Kovac is only missing longer-term injured players Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso and Rafinha from his squad.

Confident Portuguese

Not only Bayern but also the opponents Benfica are confident going into the game. The Eagles are currently top of their league with ten points from four games and, like Bayern, are unbeaten in all competitions at this early stage of the season. After the 2-1 win against Rio Ave in the Portuguese League Cup at the weekend, striker Rafa Silva was in confident mood. “We go into every game wanting to win it. We also believe we can win against Bayern,” said the Benfica forward.