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'Natural winner' Van Gaal seeks opening victory

Louis van Gaal believes FC Bayern München "will do fine" without injured Arjen Robben and suspended Franck Ribéry as last year's runners-up begin their campaign at home to AS Roma.

'Natural winner' Van Gaal seeks opening victory
'Natural winner' Van Gaal seeks opening victory ©UEFA.com

Last season's runners-up FC Bayern München may be starting their UEFA Champions League campaign against AS Roma on Wednesday without the injured Arjen Robben and suspended Franck Ribéry but coach Louis van Gaal – "a natural winner" – remains optimistic of victory.

Louis van Gaal, Bayern coach
It's not the strongest group, and not the weakest either, but we have a good chance of qualifying for the knockouts. Yes, we are without Robben and Ribéry, but Bayern have enough good players. We'll do fine, just like we did last year when this duo were injured. Ribéry will be replaced on the flank by Hamit Altıntop, [Danijel] Pranjić or [Thomas] Müller – I haven't made a decision on that yet.

Are Bayern favourites because we played in last season's final? No, I don't think so. In the UEFA Champions League there can be only one favorite – FC Barcelona. The second favourites are Chelsea. But we'll fight, and of course we want to go one step further than last season and we really need a good start to the group stage. I don't need any extra motivation for Champions League games. I'm a natural winner, and I want victory in absolutely every match – be it against FC Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen or AS Roma.

Claudio Ranieri, Roma coach
We're in a group of champions, so we know it will be tough. Bayern are the favourites, and the other three teams at the same level and fighting for second place. When Van Gaal [Barcelona] and I [Valencia] both worked in Spain we had mixed results against the other, but I have got the better of him away from home before.

Inter won the Champions League last year, and now all Italian clubs want to do well in Europe. I'm expecting a great fight tomorrow, and believe the 5-1 loss at Cagliari on Saturday will just add to our motivation and desire to delight our fans. We're not afraid of Bayern. For us, it is very important for us to reach the knockout phase.

Team news
Robben is out for the group stage with a torn left thigh muscle and Ribéry is serving out a three-match suspension.

Rodrigo Taddei hurt his thigh in training on Monday and was ruled out along with three players struck down on international duty – Mirko Vučinić (back), Philippe Mexès (calf) and John Arne Riise (concussion). Paolo Castellini replaced Riise at left-back on Saturday but lasted just 14 minutes before being forced off with a thigh problem which rules him out, although Adriano has recovered from a similar issue.

Weekend results
11/09/10 Bayern 0-0 SV Werder Bremen
An unchanged Bayern side failed to score for the second successive game, having found the net in their 24 previous league matches.

11/09/10 Cagliari Calcio 5-1 Roma
(Conti 8, Matri 23pen 47, Acquafresca 38, Lazzari 88; De Rossi 18)
Nicolás Burdisso was sent off after 22 minutes as Roma suffered their first 5-1 Serie A loss since 1949, ending a 13-game unbeaten away run in the league.

Did you know?
Van Gaal twice encountered Italian opposition in the UEFA Champions League final with AFC Ajax, beating AC Milan 1-0 in 1995 but losing on penalties to Juventus the year after. He also guided Ajax to victory against Torino FC in the 1992 UEFA Cup final.

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