Confident Bayern to face against Valencia
MUNICH - The Associated Press
Bayern Munich won its first five competitive matches of the new season. AFP photoBayern Munich will begin its Champions League campaign against Valencia tonight full of confidence after its best start to a season in 12 years - when it went on to win the European title against the Spanish team.
Bayern’s dramatic loss on penalties to Chelsea in the Champions League final May prompted the German powerhouse to embark on a spending spree. It then won its first five competitive matches of the season with a club record 12 goals from its opening three Bundesliga games.
“It was a game that you never forget, it stays with you a lifetime,” Bayern defender Holger Badstuber said of the match against Chelsea. “It was a heavy blow but we’ve coped with it. Every player took his own conclusions from it. It should spur us on and not hamper us. It’s a new season now. We have new targets to aim for.”
Bayern last won the Champions League in 2001, when Mauricio Pellegrino - now Valencia coach - missed the decisive spot kick in the final to give the Germans their fourth title.
“It was a huge disappointment from a sporting point of view, absolutely,” the 40-year-old Pellegrino told Kicker magazine ahead of his European debut as coach. “But it’s also a good memory, because I was there for one of Valencia’s biggest nights.”
Bayern’s last - and only - loss at home to a Spanish team in the competition came 10 years ago, when Deportivo La Coruna recorded a 3-2 win. The Bavarian team has 13 wins to show from 19 home games with Spanish sides.
But no Bayern player is underestimating Valencia, most likely the Germans’ chief rival to top the group.
“They’re a very good team, not Madrid or Barcelona, but not very far off,” said Arjen Robben.
France’s Lille hosts Belarus’ champion BATE Borisov in Group F’s other match.
The French side hopes to it can improve its defense after a lackluster start to the league.
“We’ve conceded at least one goal per game since the league started,” Lille coach Rudi Garcia said. “But in terms of commitment and team spirit I have nothing to reproach the players for. We just need to try and push forward more, we need to be more consistent.”