Mark van Bommel is hoping a break from FC Bayern München's domestic troubles and the Bavarian weather can be the tonic that revitalises their faltering season as they prepare to take on Sporting Clube de Portugal.
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Mark van Bommel is hoping a break from FC Bayern München's domestic troubles – not to mention the Bavarian weather – can be the tonic that revitalises their faltering season.
The German champions arrived in Lisbon for their UEFA Champions League first knockout round tie with Sporting Clube de Portugal a few hours behind schedule after being snowed in at Munich airport – and Van Bommel was clearly delighted to finally be preparing for the match in more favourable temperatures. "It's always nicer to play in this kind of weather," said the Netherlands midfielder, before turning to business. "We've lost three of our last four [Bundesliga] games and we hope to do much better from now on."
Saturday's 2-1 home loss to 1. FC Köln, which brought a run of seven successive wins in all competitions at the Fußball Arena München to a juddering halt, continued Bayern's poor form in 2009, leaving them four points behind league leaders Hamburger SV. Van Bommel envisages Jürgen Klinsmann's men using the UEFA Champions League as a springboard to turn their fortunes around. "We have to react," he said. "But these games in the Champions League give us the chance to do just that." Bayern, he went on, should not be taken lightly even in their current state: "Bundesliga games are very different to European games."
Indeed, according to the 31-year-old, morale remains high in the camp. "The spirit in the dressing room is good," he said. "The only thing we're thinking about on the pitch is how to win the game, not our previous results." Not that Bayern's optimism means they are expecting an easy ride in the Portuguese capital. "We're not arrogant, but we are certainly feeling positive," he said.
'Past is past'
Defender Lucio echoed his captain's remarks, acknowledging that while Bayern's record against Portuguese sides is excellent – having lost once in 20 meetings and never on Portuguese soil – it will count for little come kick-off at the Estádio José Alvalade. "Without doubt, history favours us," the 30-year-old said, "but this is another game, another story. We're coming into the game with a positive attitude, but the past is the past."
Boys from Brazil
The Brazilian international also recognises the quality in the ranks at Sporting, especially among his compatriots. "Liedson is important for them," he said, "everyone knows how important he is. But it's not just Liedson. In Brazil we know all about [Fábio] Rochemback and we all saw [Anderson] Polga was a good player when he played for the national team."