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FCB as ‘Black Beast’ - 01.09.2007

FCB seek maximum return in Hamburg

After a long winning streak against Real Madrid in the late nineties, the Spanish press dubbed Bayern La Bestia Negra, or the Black Beast. On Sunday, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men will again be clad in black, the black of their new UEFA Cup kit to be precise, as Bundesliga opponents Hamburg also play in the Munich club colours of red and white.

“We’re going to Hamburg looking for a win,“ the Bayern coach declared, irrespective of the colour of the shirts. Bayern have scored ten goals and conceded none in the course of collecting nine points from their first three matches, and would be brimful of confidence regardless of their choice of jerseys. “We’re in great shape and aiming to beat Hamburg,“ Germany star Philipp Lahm intoned.

Serious test

The 57,000 full house at the Hamburg World Cup Arena will see a self-assured but respectful visiting side. “We know what to expect there. HSV have the potential to be one of the best clubs in the league. It’ll be a big challenge for us,“ Hitzfeld warned, while Lahm described the match as “a serious test.” The northerners were fifth in the standings before the weekend on six points.

Coach Huub Stevens, usually one of the Bundesliga’s less attack-minded bosses, guided his side to a 4-0 win over Honved Budapest on Thursday, earning them a morale-boosting place in the UEFA Cup. “I hope we play to our potential. Bayern are obviously completely different class compared to Budapest,“ Stevens acknowledged. “With the crowd on our side we can beat Bayern,” captain Raphael van der Vaart insisted.

Clean sheet a priority

Hitzfeld described the Netherlands international as occupying “the key role for HSV”. His counterpart at Bayern in recent weeks has been Franck Ribery. “Van der Vaart on one side and Ribery on the other ought to be a treat for the crowd,” Hitzfeld remarked.

Van der Vaart will frequently cross paths with Zé Roberto and fellow Dutch star Mark van Bommel. Nevertheless, Bayern have no intention of orienting their tactics to their opponents: “We’ll impose ourselves on the play,” indicated Miroslav Klose, set to return from injury on Sunday.

Bogey opponents

“The priority is keeping a clean sheet. We’re always good for a goal from somewhere up front,“ Klose continued. The Reds’ goals have emanated from six different players so far this term. “Our aim is to play to our strengths again,” explained Hamit Altintop, set to retain his place in the starting line-up with Luca Toni sidelined.

The phrase La Bestia Negra actually conveys more than its literal meaning in Spain: it stands for a bogey team. In the Bavarians’ case, that certainly applies to HSV, who have won three or the last four meetings between the sides. The northerners were also the last team to beat Bayern in the Bundesliga, winning 2-1 on 28 April at the Allianz Arena. At about ten to seven on Sunday evening, we will know which of the pair is the true Black Beast.

Probable line-ups:

Hamburger SV: Rost - Brecko , Reinhardt, Mathijsen, Atouba - Jarolim, de Jong - Castelen, van der Vaart, Olic - Guerrero

Bayern Munich: Kahn - Lell, Lucio, Demichelis, Lahm - Van Bommel, Zé Roberto - Altintop, Ribéry, Schweinsteiger - Klose
Also in matchday sqaud: Rensing, Ismael, Ottl, Van Buyten, Podolski, Wagner, Sosa

Referee: Florian Meyer (Burgdorf)

Bayern’s record in the fixture: P42 W20 D10 L12 F72 A50

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