Steaua Bucharest open their Champions League campaign with a tough test against Jurgen Klinsmann’s Bayern Munich in Bucharest.
“We’re pleased to be here,” Steaua coach Marius Lacatus said on the eve of Matchday 1. “Clearly, we have to prove that we can play good football and that we’re here for the third year running because of that.”
Lacatus has brought in ten new players over the summer, including Colombian midfielder Juan Toja from FC Dallas, Brazilian striker Arthur Bernhardt from Cordoba and former Olympiakos forward Pantelis Kapetanos.
“I have faith in the players who have a lot of experience but, at the same time, I also have it in those who have never played in the Champions League and who want to demonstrate that they are top players,” Lacatus said. “If we mix our experience with the desire to do well, the team’s desire to show they are quality players, then we can get results.
“It will be a tough match,” he said of the prospect of facing the german champions. “Bayern have a strong side with quality players who have played a lot of international football. But they have weaknesses too and we’ll try to exploit them.”
“It’s not the same as playing them in a month or two’s time,” he added. “Now is a good time for us to play Bayern at home.”
Bayern coach Klinsmann said his players were looking forward to playing in the Champions League again after failing to qualify last year for Europe’s elite competition.
“We know how difficult it will be, but there’s a lot of excitement within the team,” said Klinsmann. “We’ll be up against a very strong Steaua side. They’re very good at bringing the ball out of defence and going on the attack; their transition game is good. However, we’ve come here to get three points.”
Bayern will be without French international playmaker Franck Ribéry, who is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained at EURO 2008, but Italy striker Luca Toni is back on goalscoring form after injury, having netted twice in Bayern’s 3-0 victory at Cologne on Saturday.