By Patrick Hart
FC Bayern München face overwhelming odds, as well as RC Deportivo La Coruña, at the Riazor stadium on Tuesday night. Bayern, one of the pre-tournament favourites, must win if they are to avoid elimination in Group G.
Strange though it seems, Ottmar Hitzfeld's men are poised to become the first victims of the so-called group of death after three defeats in four games. Quarter-finalists on each of their previous six appearances in the competition, they travel to Spain resembling more a wobbly Zimmer frame than the irresistible juggernaut of old.
Storm clouds gather
According to midfield player Mehmet Scholl, "there will be a storm in Munch" if they fail to take maximum points in Galicia. "There will be enormous pressure on us if we don't win," said the German international, one of few players to shine in Saturday's 3-3 draw with Hannover 96.
No case for defence
That result might have kept Bayern top of the 1. Bundesliga but it did nothing to impress coach Hitzfeld. "The fact we let in three goals shows we are not defending well," he said, after Sammy Kuffour's late own goal cost Bayern victory at the Olympiastadion.
A greater worry for the trainer is the club's growing casualty list. Stefan Wessels will deputise for captain Oliver Kahn, who suffered a thigh strain in last week's 2-1 defeat by AC Milan, while Owen Hargreaves, Willy Sagnol and Hasan Salihamidzic are struggling with injuries. On the plus side, Scholl and Bixente Lizarazu came through the Hannover match unscathed to prove their fitness. Hitzfeld remains defiant, however. "I think we will win our last two games and we just have to hope other results go our way."
First blood to Depor
Bayern's woes started with a 3-2 home loss to Deportivo on Matchday One - and it is the Spanish team who are set to profit by them. A victory would be enough for Javier Irureta's men to secure second place in the section provided RC Lens fail to beat leaders Milan at the Félix-Bollaert stadium.
Deportivo were actually the first Primera División side to win at Bayern - and the bad news for the latter is that Roy Makaay, a hat-trick hero in Munich, registered twice at the weekend in a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano. "It was a very important victory," said coach Irureta, "because it gives us a psychological boost for the game against Bayern."
Up for the fight
The Riazor side were accused of lacking fight after last week's 3-1 reverse at Lens. They too have injuries to key men in defender Jorge Andrade and midfield player Juan Valerón. But according to striker Albert Luque, they "will be really up for it" on Tuesday night. Luque told uefa.com: "We know we are playing for our place in the next round." More is the pity for Hitzfeld and company.
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