"It is nice to know that Germany will be watching us," said Stefan Kiessling as he prepares to lead the line in Bayer 04 Leverkusen's UEFA Champions League Group A return against Manchester United FC.
The Werkself lost 4-2 at Old Trafford on matchday one but Kiessling – who has scored twice in the group stage since – is adamant that Leverkusen will be a different proposition this time around. "We learned a lesson from the first match in Manchester," he explained. "We were nervous and a bit scared. But this was our first Champions League match in a while, and with the Old Trafford atmosphere, some players may have been a little overawed.
"Now we are well prepared and I hope we can show the crowd that," added the 29-year-old. "It is nice to know that Germany will be watching us. Now we have to show the nation that we can play. And if everybody does his best, there is a chance to spring a surprise and make it to the next round. The matches so far have been quite good and that's why we have a lot of confidence."
Leverkusen famously eliminated Sir Alex Ferguson's United in the semis to reach the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League final, but the German side are yet to record a victory against their visitors over 90 minutes in five attempts. That might give the game an added frisson for some supporters, but Kiessling is far from starstruck.
"I'm really looking forward to the match, and not just playing against any individual player," he said. "Of course they have a very good squad and lots of quality – you only have to see how many titles they have won in recent years – but we are focusing on our own game, so it doesn't matter who we are up against.
"Our team are coming on in the right way," the tall Germany striker said of a side separating FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund at the Bundesliga summit. "We are very strong in defence, as you could see in Berlin on Saturday [a 1-0 win against Hertha BSC Berlin], and our attackers can play very well too. If we are strong in both of those departments, it will be very hard to beat us. We will take every little chance we get."
He added: "It is not that easy to beat us at home – not even for United."
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