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Alou Diarra's rise to prominence is "one of the seven wonders of the world" according to FC Bayern München general manager Uli Hoeness, but the FC Girondins de Bordeaux captain is interested in points, not making waves, as the French titleholders prepare to host his former employers.
At the start of his career Diarra spent two years with Bayern's second string, playing alongside the likes of Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger. "I have very fond memories of my time in Bayern," said the French international. "I played with very big players and I'm looking forward to meeting up with some of the guys who played with me in the reserve team."
When he does Uli Hoeness may be an aghast onlooker after admitting that when Diarra left to join Liverpool FC in 2002 he never expected their paths to cross again. "If somebody had told me [he would return for a UEFA Champions League game] five years ago and made a bet with me, I would have lost a fortune," Bayern's general manager told Bild newspaper. "For me, it is like one of the seven wonders of the world that he is captain of Bordeaux and even plays for the national team."
Diarra never played a competitive game for Liverpool, spending the next three seasons on loan in France with Le Havre AC, SC Bastia and RC Lens. The latter spell led to a permanent move and after spending 2006/07 at Olympique Lyonnais having been earmarked as a replacement for Mahamadou Diarra, the midfielder really found his feet at Bordeaux – he was a key part of their double-winning side last term.
Bordeaux's fortunes have dipped this term, with Laurent Blanc's men suffering consecutive away defeats at AS St-Etienne and AJ Auxerre – prompting some cause for concern. "At St-Etienne, it was obvious: we were no good and everything went wrong," the 28-year-old said. "But we were unlucky in the first half at Auxerre. Then we gave them space and ended up completely disorganised."
Diarra sees Wednesday's Group A fixture as a chance to wipe the slate clean and start afresh, for the team if not for himself. "There will be no big speech before the Bayern game," he said. "I will ask the players to be focused and to forget about the mistakes we made in the recent matches." He may wish to remind Bayern and Hoeness of their own miscalculations, however, and why they let him leave.
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