By Tim Pfeifer
FC Bayern München realise that victory is essential in their home tie against a resurgent AC Milan side - not just to revive their UEFA Champions League hopes, but also to restore some confidence to their battered ranks.
The two sides are among the most decorated in European football history, with over 500 UEFA competition games and 18 European titles between them. Nevertheless, all those laurels will count for nothing when the whistle blows on Tuesday night. "We have to land a big victory," said Bayern goalkeeper and captain Oliver Kahn. "That's why Milan are coming at the right time. We can gain self-confidence from such a match."
'We will win'
Despite seeing Bayern suffer their first 1. Bundesliga defeat of the season against Bayer 04 Leverkusen last Saturday, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is sure that his team can take the pressure against the Group G leaders. "This is a great challenge against absolutely world-class players," said Hitzfeld. "We are in deep water in the Champions League so we need three points. Bayern [are among] the favourites for the Champions League title. We will prove that. We will win. We are experienced enough to survive this situation."
After losing 3-2 against RC Deportivo La Coruña and only drawing 1-1 with RC Lens, victory is more essential for Bayern than it is for Milan, who have already beaten Lens 2-1 and, stunningly, Deportivo 4-0 in Spain.
Bayern will be without injury victims Mehmet Scholl, Bixente Lizarazu and Roque Santa Cruz as well as long-term absentee Sebastian Deisler. However, Willy Sagnol is available again, after missing the Leverkusen match to attend the birth of his baby. As for Milan, they will welcome back Rui Costa and Andrea Pirlo, both rested from the 1-1 weekend draw with S.S. Lazio, while defender Alessandro Nesta is a doubt.
Abundant attacking gifts
A major factor in the outcome of the game will be how well Bayern's recently shaky-looking defence will cope with the abundant attacking gifts of Milan's Rivaldo, Rui Costa and Filippo Inzaghi, who has already scored five goals in this year's competition.
'Draw is not enough'
The attacking strengths of his side have also caused coach Carlo Ancelotti to dismiss speculation that he would be content with a point. "A draw is not enough." he said. "We want to win and qualify for the second group stage as soon as possible. We know it will be an important game. But we are used to this kind of stress and excitement."
Milan's record on German soil does not inspire confidence, with four draws and five defeats in their last nine visits since they beat 1. FC Saarbrucken 47 years ago. Bayern will be desperate to ensure their long wait goes on.
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