FC Bayern München coach Jürgen Klinsmann believes his squad's upbeat mood will help spur them on to the point that they need for a place in the first knockout round when they entertain struggling FC Steaua Bucureşti.
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FC Bayern München coach Jürgen Klinsmann believes his squad's upbeat mood will help spur them to a place in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round when they entertain struggling FC Steaua Bucureşti on Tuesday.
The faltering early steps of Bayern's season are long forgotten, with Saturday's 4-1 defeat of FC Energie Cottbus extending an unbeaten run to eleven games in all competitions. That impressive sequence has inched the German champions up to third in the Bundesliga, and means they head into their Matchday 5 encounter on the brink of a place in the knockout phase for their fifth successive UEFA Champions League campaign.
"The situation is very positive," said Klinsmann, whose team will be certain of going through if they avoid defeat, but will still progress even if they lose and ACF Fiorentina fail to beat Olympique Lyonnais in Italy in the night's other Group F tie. "We played very well on Saturday. We've got a great chance of going through to the last 16 – that's our main ambition. We want to get the point we need."
Philipp Lahm has recovered from the ankle injury which forced him to miss the Matchday 4 draw at Fiorentina, meaning Zé Roberto – a makeshift left-back in Florence – will reclaim his place in midfield at the expense of Bayern's goalscorer in Italy, Tim Borowski. "There's no problem with concentration, because the players know they were slightly fortunate to get a victory in Bucharest," said the former Germany coach.
Klinsmann will draft the man that secured an opening 1-0 win, Daniel Van Buyten, into central defence should Martín Demichelis fail to overcome a calf injury sustained last weekend, while striker Lukas Podolski also faces an eleventh-hour fitness test on a back problem. "Steaua have quality, and in a one-off game, you've always got a chance," the coach added. "We have to be switched on and fully committed to ensure there are no slip-ups."
UEFA Cup aim
With just a single point from their first four matches, Steaua arrive in snow-covered Bavaria with no chance of making the last 16. However, coach Dorinel Munteanu is determined to ensure his side will still be in European competition come 2009 by making up the two-point gap to third-placed Fiorentina. "Our objective is to qualify for the knockout rounds of the UEFA Cup," said Munteanu. "We want to show our best side. It's important for us that our players perform to the maximum of their abilities."
Romanian international George Ogăraru will lose his ever-present tag after picking up an ankle injury in his country's friendly with Georgia last week, affording Paweł Golański the opportunity to slot in at right-back for his first group-stage appearance this season. Greek striker Pantelis Kapetanos is also unavailable after suffering a groin injury in training. Munteanu is fully aware of the scale of the task as Steaua bid to halt a winless run of 12 matches in all competitions. "It's a difficult match," he said. "Bayern are favourites, but our players are focused and well-prepared. We have respect for Bayern, but there's no fear."