Determined FCB ‘fit and on fire’
The clock is ticking down – and Bayern’s hopes are very much still alive! Some 32 hours prior to the Champions League quarter-final return against FC Porto, the Reds can hardly wait for kick-off. “The team’s on fire, the team wants it, and the team is fit,” declared captain Philipp Lahm. Boss Pep Guardiola was just as determined: “Obviously it’s a huge challenge, but you don’t want to waste time thinking about it. We simply need to play well and show courage, and then we can get the result we need.”
Bayern lost last week’s first leg 3-1 in Porto. The tie will be settled and a place in the semi-finals awarded at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night (Live in English from 20:45 CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Free Web Radio). “We’ll throw everything we’ve got at it,” promised Thomas Müller, “a 2-0 home win for FC Bayern wouldn’t be a footballing wonder of the world, but we have to earn the result in the first place.”
“It’s important we don’t get too wound up about the match,” Müller continued, “everyone just piling forward would be suicide.” That is of course exactly what the wily Portuguese will be hoping for, and another goal conceded on the break would make Bayern’s job even harder. “But we’ll have to take risks,” advised Guardiola, “it’s not easy to turn around a 3-1 deficit in the Champions League.”
Backs to the wall
However, the men from Munich will try their utmost to do just that, with brave football and the support of the home crowd. “The huge benefit compared to the first leg is that we’re at home,” Lahm stated, “we’ll have unconditional support from our fans. Everything’s possible if we can score an early goal. We know what we’re capable of, so I’m utterly convinced we’ll reach the semi-finals.”
The captain was oozing confidence at Monday’s press conference, as was team-mate Müller. However, neither man forgot to be realistic. “We have our backs to the wall to a certain extent,” acknowledged Müller, recalling the agonising defeat in the first leg. “It was simply damned unlucky timing that we made mistakes in the first leg of a knockout match in the Champions League.”
But that cannot be changed, and fortunately half of the two-legged tie remains to be played. In terms of his line-up Guardiola still has few real options. Bastian Schweinsteiger is the only man fit enough to rejoin the squad compared to last week, with Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, David Alaba, Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martínez and Tom Starke still unavailable. “Porto have the fresher legs, but tomorrow it’ll be decided not by legs but by heads,” Guardiola concluded. And Bayern certainly seem up for the challenge mentally.