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Bayern focused on Lens victory

Published: Monday 23 September 2002, 16.25CET
Defeat for either side is unthinkable when RC Lens host FC Bayern München on Tuesday.

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Published: Monday 23 September 2002, 16.25CET

Bayern focused on Lens victory

Defeat for either side is unthinkable when RC Lens host FC Bayern München on Tuesday.

By Pavle Gognidze

After an opening defeat by RC Deportivo La Coruña left them with their "backs to the wall", FC Bayern München know victory is imperative when they tackle RC Lens, the other losing Group G side on Matchday One, at the Félix-Bolleart stadium tomorrow.

Sense of urgency
The 3-2 home loss to Deportivo has left the Bavarians in a precarious position as they prepare to tackle the French side for the first time, as coach Ottmar Hitzfeld acknowledges: "We only have crunch games in the Champions League now." Hitzfeld, who led BV Borussia Dortmund to success in this competition four years before repeating the feat with Bayern, added: "We've got our backs to the wall and know we have to claim three points to maintain a decent chance of making the second round."

Attacking showing
The shock of Depor's smash-and-grab raid removed some of the gloss from Bayern's excellent start to the 1. Bundesliga season, although they further expended their domestic advantage when coming from behind to defeat FC Energie Cottbus 3-1 on Saturday. Michael Ballack, so inspirational in the Champions League for Bayer 04 Leverkusen last season, was again among the scorers, and the midfield maestro is promising an attacking showing from the four-times European champions.

'Win at all costs'
"We have precisely no points, so we have to win at all costs," Ballack said. The player also acknowledged that Lens, beaten 2-1 by Milan AC in Italy last week, are in an equally precarious position. "It's the sort of game where both sides urgently need points," added Ballack. "It would be a mistake to go hell for leather - we need to wait patiently for our chances."

Pizarro fitness doubts
Hitzfeld is sweating on the fitness of Claudio Pizarro ahead of the meeting with a team he describes as "robust, physical and mobile" as well as being "very strong in the air". Alexander Zickler is on stand-by, although Bixente Lizarazu, Mehmet Scholl, Roque Santa Cruz and Sebastian Deisler are sidelined.

'Spirit and heart'
Despite three defeats in succession, including a 2-1 Ligue 1 loss to FC Girondins de Bordeaux on Saturday, coach Joël Muller believes Lens are playing well. "There is a lack of luck", he said. "Against Bayern we need to show the same spirit and heart." Spirit and heart may not be enough for a side who could be without defender Adama Coulibaly with a hamstring strain, although the rest of the squad is fit.

'Nothing to lose'
Yet the combination of a desire to impress in Europe and the vociferous backing of a fervent home support could still pay for dividends for Lens. Muller, who is expected to charge playmaker Stéphane Pédron with proving the bullets for John Utaka, Daniel Moreira and Degui Bakari, concluded: "Our advantage is that we have nothing to lose." Bayern are all too aware of that.

Last updated: 25/09/02 10.24CET