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By Andreas Alf in Munich
FC Bayern München playmaker Michael Ballack has called on his side to avenge the 1-0 defeat by Juventus FC on Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League when the two sides meet again at a sold-out Olympiastadion on Wednesday.
Bayern have been struggling to hit top gear in the Bundesliga, but hope to put the disappointment of losing to VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday behind them by beating the Group C leaders. "Our major problem has been the fluctuation between really good and really poor performances," Ballack said. "But without any doubt, we're very enthusiastic and want to beat [Juventus], to put ourselves in a strong position ahead of the last two group matches."
Both sides got off to perfect starts, each beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and AFC Ajax in their opening two matches. Bayern in particular impressed with a 4-0 thrashing of the Dutch champions at the Olympiastadion, but coach Felix Magath is not expecting such an open game against Juve.
"We all know Juve's style, it's no secret," Magath said. "They won't help us by trying to play with us. Their defence is strong so we must work hard. Our best chance [of winning] is by forcing their defenders to make mistakes. Juventus are one of my favourites to win the Champions League, but two weeks ago we were able to control them. We were the better team. It will be very difficult for Juve to play us."
Torsten Frings (back), Andreas Görlitz (knee) and Hasan Salihamidzic (groin) are all expected to feature after passing fitness tests on Tuesday, and English international Owen Hargreaves also returns to the squad. But Magath will still be without Zé Roberto (concussion), Jens Jeremies, Roque Santa Cruz (both knee) and Sebastian Deisler (illness).
Del Piero doubtful
Juventus coach Fabio Capello also has injury concerns as his side go in search of the victory that would ensure their place in the next round. French striker David Trezeguet is definitely out with a dislocated shoulder while Alessandro Del Piero is a major doubt after missing training because of fever. "We hope he'll be fit," Capello said. "It was a big surprise for all of us." Uruguayan striker Marcelo Zalayeta stands by.
Juve have built their supremacy in Serie A on a miserly defence and they are the only team yet to concede a goal in the Champions League after three matches this season. They will be without defender Jonathan Zebina in Munich because of a muscle problem, but central defender Lilian Thuram is confident Alessandro Birindelli will prove an able replacement. "We are Juventus players," Thuram said. "In our squad, everybody should be able to replace any team-mate."
Capello is expecting Bayern to be a much tougher proposition in front of their home support, particularly with striker Claudio Pizarro back among the goals after injury. "There is one difference to the match two weeks ago," Capello said. "Claudio Pizarro will partner Roy Makaay. This is going to be very difficult for our defence." Makaay, in contrast, has not scored in his past six matches for Bayern.
It was a moment of brilliance from Pavel Nedved that decided the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides on Matchday 3, but a surprisingly reserved Capello is taking nothing for granted this time around. "We will try to attack," he said. "Above all, we hope to get a good result. We have more points than Bayern, but that does not mean anything at this stage."
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