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Ivica Olić believes FC Bayern München have recovered from the pain of losing last season's UEFA Champions League final to FC Internazionale Milano as they return to the competition against another Italian side in Group E rivals AS Roma on Wednesday.
Powerful emotions may have been stirred that May night in Madrid, but Olić feels confident Bayern will be in the right frame of mind for what is sure to be a challenging start to this year's group stage.
"I think the team has more or less forgotten about that game, what with players having had to prepare with their national squads to take part in the World Cup," said the Croatian international striker. "There were ten Bayern players at the World Cup finals and I think that speaks for itself. I believe that we'll continue to play well this season and go far – and why not even try to reach the final again?"
To do so they will first need to navigate a section also featuring CFR 1907 Cluj and FC Basel 1893, but although they kick off amid the familiar surroundings of their Fußball Arena München home, they must beware a Roma side also desperate to progress.
"I think that we and Roma are the favourites in this group, but the Champions League is unpredictable and can produce surprises," said Olić. "I believe Bayern will progress and I expect Roma to as well, but we'll see."
What is certain is that Olić cannot wait to get started in the competition again after something of a breakthrough last term, in which he trailed only Lionel Messi in the goalscoring charts with seven efforts. "Last year was difficult as I came from nowhere to the top and this year I need to build on that," he explained. "It's a new tournament now and I have to prove myself again. I believe I'll play as well as I can and prove that last season was no coincidence."
The desire to build on last year's performances is shared across the club and the players will once again look to Louis van Gaal for guidance, the Dutch tactician having taken the club so close to a treble in 2009/10 after securing the Bundesliga and German Cup. "He wants us to win every game," said Olić. "This year, the ambitions are the same. He wants to win and we, the players, have belief and the same winning mentality for the season ahead."
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