No team has successfully defended the UEFA Champions League title but Josep Guardiola is warming to the challenge ahead of FC Bayern München's Group D curtain-raiser at home to PFC CSKA Moskva on Tuesday.
The 42-year-old coach is too savvy to fall victim to complacency having learned the hard way against the Russian outfit during his playing days with FC Barcelona. His counterpart Leonid Slutski, meanwhile, promised that his team – shorn of playmaker Alan Dzagoev – would "give everything" to make life difficult for a Bayern side comprised of "extraordinary players".
Josep Guardiola, coach
I like the Champions League – it is a very important competition, but also very difficult. So many teams are in contention to win it this year. I am proud to undertake this challenge with my new team. CSKA are a very strong side at this stage of the year. They have lots of good players who are physically quite strong.
When I evaluate my opponents I don't concentrate on individuals but the team as a whole. The most important thing is to see how they work as a team, how they play in defence. I remember a game in 1992 against CSKA. We [Barcelona] played very well and lost [3-2 at home in a 4-3 aggregate defeat]. We didn't know how to counteract their game, handle their counterattacks, and we had won the European Cup the year before.
Bayern won everything playing extraordinary football last season. This season we have done well, mostly in the second halves of games. I know the team very well. The players always try to do exactly what I want them to do. If they don't do what I want, it's my fault. We stand together and the players want to play my type of football.
Saturday: Bayern 2-0 Hannover 96 (Mandžukić 51, Ribéry 64)
Neuer; Rafinha, Van Buyten, J Boateng (Dante 68), Alaba; Lahm, Kroos; (Kirchhoff), Robben, Müller, Ribéry; (Shaqiri 80), Mandžukić.
• In a dominant performance, a Mario Mandžukić tap-in and Franck Ribéry rebound settled matters. Bayern have only conceded twice in five Bundesliga games and have the best defensive record in the league.
Guardiola is hopeful that Bastian Schweinsteiger will recover from an ankle injury but he is without Thiago Alcántara (ankle), Javi Martínez (groin) and Mario Götze (ankle).
Leonid Slutski, coach
The Bayern team today is very different to that of last season. With the new coach they have fresh ideas and strategies. However, the players remain the same and they are some of the best in the world. You just have to look at how impressive they were in the Super Cup against Chelsea.
It's disappointing to be without Dzagoev but we must be flexible in these situations. It will be tough, playing against one of the best teams in the world, but we will give everything. They are a team of extraordinary players who like to play attacking football and it's only a matter of time before they adapt to Guardiola's philosophy.
Saturday: CSKA 1-0 FC Rostov (Bazelyuk 70)
Akinfeev; Schennikov, Ignashevich, V Berezutski, Nababkin; Wernbloom, Dzagoev (Cauņa 79), Honda, Tošić (Zuber 46); Vitinho (Bazelyuk 69), Musa.
• Konstantin Bazelyuk marked his league debut with a goal that extended CSKA's winning streak to four games. It was the 20-year-old's fourth goal in three games having struck three for Russia U21s during the international break.
Dzagoev and Zoran Tošić will play no part in Munich after picking up injuries against Rostov. Rasmus Elm, Mário Fernandes, Mark González and Seydou Doumbia are other absentees.
• CSKA's previous two visits to Germany came in the UEFA Champions League group stage and each time they lost – 3-2 at Hamburger SV in 2006/07 and 3-1 to VfL Wolfsburg in 2009/10, when Dzagoev scored their goal – although they did win both Moscow meetings.