Ottmar Hitzfeld believes FC Bayern München can "achieve something great" but they will need the help of a sell-out crowd to see off Real Madrid CF tonight.
FC Bayern München coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is promising home fans that with their support his side can "achieve something great" when they meet Real Madrid CF with a berth in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at stake.
'Ignite the fire'
Mark van Bommel's late strike at the Santiago Bernabéu a fortnight ago has left the match delicately poised at 3-2 to Madrid. While the Spanish team hold the advantage, Hitzfeld insists that with the majority of the sell-out crowd behind them, his charges can turn the tie on its head. "We have to ignite the fire," said the 58-year-old. "The fans have to see that we can achieve something great here, something big. We will play attacking football and defend aggressively, but we need the supporters to get behind us."
They have a generic name for hostile stadiums in Germany: 'Hexenkessel' (witch's cauldron). The sobriquet is not often applied to the Fußball Arena München but despite their woes this season, Bayern do boast the best home record in the Bundesliga. Madrid have unrivalled statistics on their travels in their own domestic competition and something has to give; Hitzfeld thinks that, after some fine-tuning, it is not going to be his side. "The situation is very positive," he said. "We have a good chance, only we need to improve how we deal with set-pieces."
That may be difficult if centre-back Lucio fails to recover from a bruised toe, while question marks hang over the availability of Owen Hargreaves, Hasan Salihamidžić and Christian Lell. All face fitness tests, though Madrid have selection worries too. Gonzalo Higuaín and Ruud van Nistelrooy are struggling with thigh problems picked up in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Getafe CF, when José Antonio Reyes and David Beckham also sustained knee injuries which rule them out.
Hitzfeld admits the absence of Beckham, who was involved in all three Madrid goals in the first leg, is "a boost" for his team yet Capello is confident that whatever side he sends out in Munich will deliver the goods. "We are not panicking," he said. "Beckham is a very good player but his absence doesn't leave us helpless. The game will be all about keeping things tight, secure." Capello's hopes of doing that though were dealt a blow when Fabio Cannavaro was a late withdrawal with a thigh muscle injury.
"Then again, sometimes attack is the best form of defence. It depends who is available." Indeed, the defensive game is not naturally suited to the Merengues, top scorers in the UEFA Champions League this term, and they have not had the best of times in Munich in recent years. Their heaviest loss in the tournament remains a 4-1 defeat in 1999 against a Bayern side led by Hitzfeld in his first spell in charge. And the veteran coach suggests Madrid are there for the taking again: "I'm confident. It's Bayern's duty to go far."
Bayern: Oliver Kahn; Willy Sagnol, Lucio/Martín Demichelis, Daniel Van Buyten, Philipp Lahm; Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mark van Bommel, Owen Hargreaves, Andreas Görlitz/Hasan Salihamidžić; Roy Makaay, Lukas Podolski.
Madrid: Iker Casillas; Miguel Torres, Sergio Ramos, Iván Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Raúl González, Mahamadou Diarra, Emerson, Guti; Ruud van Nistelrooy, Gonzalo Higuaín.