The UEFA Champions League's German contingent, FC Bayern München and Werder Bremen, are keeping their fingers crossed as the Round of 16 draw approaches.
While Bundesliga leaders Bayern are still disappointed at missing out on top spot in Group A on Matchday 6, Bremen are relieved just to have reached the knockout phase from Group C. However, both sides are sure whom they want to avoid in the next round.
Bayern coach Felix Magath is convinced his men can compete with any team in Europe, saying: "We can beat every team in this competition." However, general manager Uli Hoeness has a different perspective. "All our potential opponents will be tough competition," he said, "but [FC] Barcelona are something else. Now would be too early to play them."
Bremen saw the Spanish giants' breathtaking ability at first hand in the group stage when they lost home and away against Frank Rijkaard's side, and although they cannot be pitted against them in the last 16, general manager Klaus Allofs has his own doomsday scenario. "We would be glad to avoid Olympique Lyonnais," he said. "We will be hungry to play them later on."
Lyon were the architects of Bremen's downfall last season, as they subjected Thomas Schaaf's charges to a humiliating 10-2 aggregate defeat in the first knockout round, but the in-form north German team feel ready to take on most opponents at the moment. "I am sure we will do a better job in the Round of 16 this term," said Allofs.
Bayern were more impressive at the same stage in 2004/05, overcoming Arsenal FC, and captain Oliver Kahn is convinced his side are strong enough to repeat their UEFA Champions League victory of 2000/01. "Once again we are mature enough to achieve something big but we need some luck too," said the veteran goalkeeper.
The rules of the draw prevent the German duo being drawn together at this point, while Bayern will also be protected from meeting the other qualifiers from Group A, Juventus, in the same way Bremen will not be allowed to play Barcelona.
For Bayern, that means landing one from Arsenal, Barcelona, Villarreal CF, AC Milan, Lyon, Liverpool FC and FC Internazionale Milano. "We are talking about the king's class of European football," said Magath as he surveyed his potential opponents. "There are no easy matches."
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