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By Andreas Alf in Munich
Despite two defeats at the hands of Juventus FC, FC Bayern München are full of confidence about their chances of progressing in the UEFA Champions League when they welcome Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC on Tuesday evening.
Having finally reached the Bundesliga summit at the weekend for the first time this season with a 3-1 home success against 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Felix Magath's side could reach the first qualifying round with a triumph against the Israeli side at the Olympiastadion, provided AFC Ajax fail to beat group winners Juventus FC. "I expect we will win this match without any problems," said the Bayern coach, who knows his team held their own in the two 1-0 losses against Group C champions Juve.
Even though Maccabi were impressive 2-1 winners against Ajax on Matchday 4, Bayern are not worried. Magath said: "
We already knew they were strong after our troublesome win in Tel-Aviv [1-0, on Matchday 1], but our game has become more dangerous, too. I guess they will defend and wait for counterattacks. I want my team to perform as offensively as they did against Ajax [when Bayern prevailed 4-0 on Matchday 2] and score goals."
All players fit
Magath has been boosted by Roy Makaay's recovery from an ankle injury. It means in-form Peruvian starlet José Paolo Guerrero will begin on the bench with Makaay partnering Claudio Pizarro. Further back, the Brazilian duo Zé Roberto (flu) and Lúcio (ankle) are also fit to play. There is more good news with the return to the squad of Sebastian Deisler after his relapse with depression.
Dutch international forward Makaay, with four goals in four Champions League outings for Bayern this season, is not worried who gets on the scoresheet this time around. "Even a 1-0 win would be just fine," he said. "I want to win so that we can stop worrying about our European campaign until next year."
Maccabi coach Nir Klinger is in no doubt about the threat posed by their hosts. "At the moment, Bayern are looking extremely strong and are very successful," he said. "
This match will be unbelievably hard for us, " said Klinger, who was remaining tight-lipped about how he would approach the game. "We do not want to talk too much. I prefer my team to make their statements on the pitch."
As well as dealing with the threat posed by Makaay and co, Klinger is worried about the cold climate in Munich. "We are not used to playing in such temperatures, " he said. Yet Maccabi's own marksman Barukh Dego, whose double against Ajax on Matchday 4 gave the Israeli club their first goals and win in the competition, will not let weather worries stand in his way. "I can only promise to give my best and will do everything to score again, " he said. "We have to believe in our qualities, then a surprise might be possible."
Point the target
Even a draw, which would confirm Maccabi's elimination, would be a shock. "Such a result would be great, especially in Munich's Olympiastadion," said Klinger. To aid the cause, he should be able to call on Tamir Cohen, who has been suffering with a groin strain.
Maccabi lost 3-0 at domestic leaders Maccabi Haifa on Saturday but will be a different proposition with Dego up front after he missed out at the weekend through suspension. There was further good news despite defeat with goalkeeper Liran Strauber (ingrowing toe-nail) and defender Salem Abo Siam (ankle) returning.
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