Not for the first time, the UEFA Champions League has brought out the best in FC Bayern München. The European champions have been struggling of late in the 1. Bundesliga, particularly away from home, where they have lost five games on the trot. But the prospect of returning to the European stage this week to play Boavista FC saw them stop the rot with a fine 2-0 win away to SC Freiburg which had head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld purring once more.
Never write off Bayern
"Our side is able to develop additional power in crucial situations like this," said Oliver Kahn, the Bayern goalkeeper, prior to their match in Portugal. And team-mate Bixente Lizarazu concurred. "Never write off Bayern. It's the Champions League and anything goes," he said.
The French defender was in particularly upbeat mood, having scored his first goal of the season and only his fourth in 90 Bundesliga games. Since winning against FC Nantes Atlantique in December, Bayern have slipped down the table to fifth place while winning just twice in eight games. But as Lizarazu says, it is a mistake to write the German side off and they looked much more like their old selves at the weekend. "My team dominated the whole of the 90 minutes," was coach Hitzfeld's appraisal of the game. "There was confidence in our play. We created lots of chances and I have to say that during parts of the match the old Bayern were back again."
This is a game which Boavista must win if they are to separate the top two in Group A, Manchester United and Bayern. A good omen for Boavista is that they have won both their previous two Champions League games at home to German sides, two seasons ago and earlier this season, beating BV Borussia Dortmund on both occasions. However this is the first time they have played Bayern.
Impressive defensive record
In contrast to their opponents, Boavista’s domestic form has picked up since the Champions League's winter break, and they have lost just once in ten games, although last week's goalless draw with Gil Vicente FC was a little disappointing. Jaime Pacheco's side have the best defensive record in Portugal and Hitzfeld has a healthy respect for the club's Brazilian players, Paulo Turra, Erivan, Duda and Silva, as well as their Bolivian playmaker, Erwin Sánchez.
Injury worries ease
For their part, Boavista will need to be on their guard against Bayern's own Brazilian, Giovane Elber, whose six-goal haul in the competition so far has been surpassed only by Juventus FC’s David Trezeguet. Not only do Bayern appear to be coming back to form at just the right time but their long injury list is also easing, although six players are still absent for this tie, including Owen Hargreaves, Alexander Zickler and Hasan Salihamidzic.
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