Created on 2021-09-14 at 15:10 PM
A two-time Champions League winner like Ottmar Hitzfeld dealt with many difficult situations over the course of his career as a coach. Yet, after the 2-1 win in September 2003, he had to admit that "it took a lot of my mind." Bayern were trailing for a long time in the Champions League opener against Celtic before a brace from Roy Makaay (73'/86') turned the game round. Hitzfeld summed up the events on the nerve-wracking evening after the game in one sentence: "Football is sometimes like heaven and hell."
Makaay as saviour and destroyer
Hitzfeld experienced how less heavenly the start of the Champions League can be the year before – with the saviour Makaay also playing the main role. Then in a Deportivo La Coruña shirt, the Dutchman scored all three goals for the Spanish side in their 3-2 win at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. Bayern never really recovered from that opening defeat and went out at the group stage in Europe's premier club competition for the one and only time. You could say, blessed are those who have Makaay on their side. Neither he nor Hitzfeld could have foreseen what Bayern would achieve in the years after the hard-earned victory against Celtic.
Record run of 17 first game wins in succession
The German record champions have not made another false start in Europe's main club competition. Including the Celtic match, Bayern have won their last 17 opening matches in the Champions League to set a record run. Whether it was supposed underdogs or famous opponents like Roma (2-0 at home in 2010), Manchester City (1-0 at home in 2014), Benfica (2-0 away in 2018) or most recently Atlético Madrid (4-0 at home in 2020), no opponents were able to overcome the Reds on Champions League matchday one.
Müller is Bayern's top starter
The 2-1 win against Valencia in September 2012 was particularly notable in this record run: Bayern conceded a goal in the first match of the season for them first and only time since the 2-1 win against Celtic 18 years before – the goals difference for FCB in their first games in the Champions League since 2003 is an incredible 42 for and two against with 13 goals away without reply in seven matches. In addition to impressive defensive performances, Bayern also have to thank Thomas Müller – the stalwart scored seven goals in this run and is thereby the most successful early starter for FCB in the Champions League.
Starter qualities also evident in Barcelona
However impressive these stats are, Tuesday’s game starts with a 0-0 scoreline. Then Bayern's starter qualities will be tested again at Barcelona. "Of course, it will be great if we can extend that statistic. But we have to remember Barcelona are a top team," said super starter Müller ahead of the tough opening fixture: "There are two teams who want to play football. Anybody who's seen games at the Camp Nou knows that the pitch is always in tiptop condition, and the spectators are football mad – so everything is set up for a really great night of football."
Bayern have played Barcelona eleven times in Europe. We look back at the previous meetings: