Bayern Munich v Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Bayern Munich go into tonight’s match against Maccabi Tel-Aviv knowing that victory will secure them a place in the first qualifying round, provided Ajax fail to beat Juventus.
Bayern are top of the Bundesliga for the first time this season after a 3-1 home win against Kaiserslautern at the weekend.
Coach Felix Magath reflects his side’s current confidence. He said: “I expect we will win this match without any problems.”
Despite their own two defeats at the hands of Juventus and Maccabi’s impressive 2-1 win against Ajax on Matchday 4, Magath is not worried.
He said: “We already knew they were strong after our troublesome [1-0] win in Tel-Aviv but our game has become more dangerous, too. I guess they will defend and wait for counterattacks. I want my team to perform as offensively as they did against Ajax and score goals.”
The game Magath refered to resulted in a comprehensive 4-0 win for Bayern but since then they have suffered twice at the hands of the Italians.
Magath has been boosted by Roy Makaay’s recovery from an ankle injury. It means in-form Peruvian starlet José Paolo Guerrero will begin on the bench with Makaay partnering Claudio Pizarro up-front.
Makaay is keen for Bayern to secure qualification this evening.
“Even a 1-0 win would be just fine,” he said. “I want to win so that we can stop worrying about our European campaign until next year.”
The Brazilian duo Zé Roberto (previously suffering from flu) and Lúcio (ankle injury) are also now fit to play. There is more good news with the return to the squad of Sebastian Deisler after his relapse with depression.
Meanwhile, Maccabi coach Nir Klinger is in no doubt about the threat posed by their hosts.
“At the moment, Bayern are looking extremely strong and are very successful,” he said.
“This match will be unbelievably hard for us.”
Klinger was remaining tight-lipped about how he would approach the game.
He said: “We do not want to talk too much. I prefer my team to make their statements on the pitch.”
Maccabi are realistic about expectations for the game. A draw, which would confirm Maccabi’s elimination from the Champions league, would be treated as a huge achievement.
Klinger said: “Such a result would be great, especially in Munich’s Olympiastadion.”
The Israeli’s coach should be able to call on Tamir Cohen, who has been suffering with a groin strain. Goalkeeper Liran Strauber (previously out with an ingrown toe-nail) and defender Salem Abo Siam (ankle injury) also return.
In attack Barukh Deco, who scored twice in the win over Ajax, will return to the side that lost 3-0 at domestic league-leaders Maccabi Haifa on Saturday. He had been suspended.
He said: “I can only promise to give my best and will do everything to score again. We have to believe in our qualities, then a surprise might be possible.”
As well as dealing with the threat posed by Makaay and co, Klinger is also worried about the cold climate in Munich.
“We are not used to playing in such temperatures,” he admitted.