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CL opener

FCB aim to take 'first three points'

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On Tuesday evening at 20.45 CET a well-known hymn will finally ring out at the Allianz Arena: the Bavarians are back in Champions League action. FC Bayern open their 20th Champions League group stage at home against FC Rostov. The German record champions aim to win the opener just like in the last 12 years, laying a foundation for a successful campaign.

"The Champions League is always a special competition for me," commented Carlo Ancelotti on Monday. He won the coveted trophy three times, with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007 and with Real Madrid in 2014. He will start his next attempt with FC Bayern tomorrow. "We've got the potential, the players are good,I'm very pleased with the team." The "first step" is to "win the group," Ancelotti added: "We have to think from game to game in this competition."

"FC Bayern's goal is always to be at the very top," declared netminder Manuel Neuer: "We want to win the Champions League." But first the focus is on "making a good start. We want to take the first three points at home." Besides Rostov the Bavarians will encounter PSV Eindhoven and Atlético, who knocked out FCB in last season's semi-finals, in Group D.

Beware of Rostov

133 days after the semi-finals the Bavarians first cross swords with Rostov. It is the Russian side's first Champions League campaign after they surprisingly beat Ajax in the play-offs. "They did it very well in the qualification," a respectful Carlo Ancelotti commented: "They're very well organised, they defend with five players. It's very difficult to find solutions against them."

Thomas Müller too expects compact opponents who will "fight. We know games like this one aren't walkovers but hard work. We certainly won't underestimate anyone," the Germany international stressed. "I've rarely seen us approach a match half-heartedly or without focus." The tough competition in the squad does not permit it: "None of us can rest."

Unless the coach awards a breather. Ancelotti announced he would not opt for "great rotation," but he might change "some players." Joshua Kimmich, Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa might feature in the starting line-up, but the match comes too early for Kingsley Coman. "We prefer to prepare him for Saturday's match," explained Ancelotti.