FC Bayern München coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is confident that his team have rediscovered their best form in time for the resumption of the UEFA Champions League. Should they avoid defeat away to Boavista FC tonight they will increase their chances of claiming one of the qualifying places from Group A.
Sérgio cries off
A crippling run of injuries was largely to blame for a dispiriting run in the 1. Bundesliga in which Bayern lost five successive away games. It is still posing a concern for Hitzfeld with Champions League talisman Paulo Sergio, responsible for crucial goals in the competition against Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC and PSV Eindhoven, contracting flu over the weekend and forced to stay behind in Germany.
Nevertheless Hitzfeld said: "We're highly optimistic about the game. Boavista play with a certain South American style, and having beaten [FC] Nantes [Atlantique] 1-0 are hopeful of making the quarter-finals themselves. We have two games in six days against Boavista, we have to lay down a marker in the first match."
Three key players absent
Hitzfeld expects at least four points from the back-to-back games with the Portugese champions; all six would be a "dream achievement". However that could be an unrealistic ambition given that Bayern are missing Owen Hargreaves, Alexander Zickler and Hasan Salihamidzic.
However the team he has named is arguably stronger than that which earned a 1-0 victory away to FC Nantes Atlantique on Matchday Eight with Oliver Kahn, Mehmet Scholl, Giovane Elber, Stefan Effenberg, Jens Jeremies and Roque Santa Cruz all returning.
Pacheco dangles bait
Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco has urged his side to rise to the challenge presented by the title holders. "We want to win, since it's a unique opportunity for the players, who are going to confront a team that is a serious candidate to win the European title again," he said. The team is accustomed to carrying out an attacking game and putting constant pressure on the opponent, so there won't be great changes to our system."
After a victory and one loss Boavista know that this game represents their chance to disrupt the anticipated United- Bayern qualifying ticket.
They will draw confidence from the fact that they have already beaten German visitors this season. In the first group stage they defeated Bayern's 1. Bundesliga rivals BV Borussia Dortmund and it was against those same opponents that Boavista triumphed in their only previous contest at home to a German side.
Just six remain
His side includes only six who started their last outing in the competition. Pedrosa sprained an ankle at the weekend to join Petit and Rui Oscar as absentees.
"We have to win"
Bolivian playmaker Erwin Sánchez plays however and said: "The squad is big and we shouldn't be dramatic when some players can't play. We have to win the game with Bayern. We respect them a lot, but if we face the game positively, with no fear, we can fight out a result."
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