Robben: Roma play the best football in Italy

The Dutch winger has been impressed with the Giallorossi’s performances so far this season and believes Rudi Garcia’s men are Bayern’s “toughest rivals” in Group E

Arjen Robben says Bayern Munich will be going up against the best footballing side in Italy when they face Roma in a crucial Champions League clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday night.

The Giallorossi currently sit second in Serie A, one point behind reigning champions Juventus, whom Rudi Garcia’s men were beaten by a fortnight ago.

However, Roma were desperately unfortunate to lose in Turin and have also impressed in Europe, routing CSKA Moscow 5-1 on matchday one before earning a fully deserved draw at Manchester City last time out.

Consequently, Robben is expecting a fearsome battle when Bayern collide with the Giallorossi in the Italian capital.

“Roma are our toughest rivals at the moment,” the Netherlands international told reporters on Monday. “They’re playing the best football in Italy at the present time.”

Bayern strengthened their squad with the signing of Mehdi Benatia during the off-season and Robben says that the Roma man has fitted perfectly into Pep Guardiola’s side.

“He is a really good defender, exactly what we needed,” the winger enthused. “He will help us a lot.”

Meanwhile, Robben’s team-mate Thomas Muller is excited by the prospect of going up against Roma icon Francesco Totti, who became the oldest goalscorer in Champions League history when he netted in the 1-1 draw at City, aged 38.

“Totti is not just a legend in Rome,” the Germany international explained. “His loyalty to Roma is remarkable. I take my hat off to him for that.

“Nevertheless we want to win against him. We want to reach the knockout stage as fast as we can.

“And, as a forward, you relish playing a team who are unlikely to pull all 11 men back to their own penalty area!”

Roma sit second in Group E, one point behind Bayern, who are on a five-game winning streak in all competitions.

Guardiola: Totti is phenomenal

The Catalan amusingly noted nothing has changed since his playing days at the Stadio Olimpico, with Totti on the field and him on the bench

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has admitted that he cannot believe that former Roma team-mate Francesco Totti is still playing at the highest level.

The Catalan joined the Giallorossi in the summer of 2002 but left halfway through the season after failing to nail down a regular berth in the starting line-up and eventually hung up his boots for good four years later.

Totti, though, is still going and, at 38, became the oldest goalscorer in Champions League history when he netted in Roma’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City a fortnight ago.

Guardiola has now returned to the Italian capital as a coach and the former playmaker was quick to lavish praise on his old colleague.

“It’s good to be back,” the Bayern boss enthused. “Here in Rome I was a player just for six months. It was a short but great time.

“Of course, when I played for Roma I sat on the bench and Totti was on the field. And it’s still the same!

“Anyone still playing at the age of 38 has a great passion for this sport. That’s phenomenal.

“Normally at the age of 38, a professional player has earned enough money and quits. Totti still plays and that’s because he loves this game.”

Despite his enduring admiration for both Totti and Roma, Guardiola is desperate to lead Bayern to victory in the first part of their crucial double-header with the Serie A side.

The former Barca boss is well aware of the threat posed by Rudi Garcia’s men but he feels that the Bavarians, who have won five games on the bounce in all competitions, are playing better now than they were at this point last season.

“We have a great opportunity here,” Guardiola argued. “If we win both matches against Roma, we will reach the knockout stage.

“But if we do not play well, we will not win. Roma are a good team and they have many fast players.

“But, at the moment, are playing better than we were at the same stage last year.”

Bayern top Group E with six points, two clear of second-placed Roma.

Starke injury adds to Bayern's goalkeeper crisis

The 33-year-old has suffered an ankle ligament rupture and joins Pepe Reina on the sidelines for the German champions

Bayern Munich’s goalkeeping options have been further depleted after Tom Starke sustained an ankle injury.

The 33-year-old picked up the problem in training on Sunday and subsequently underwent surgery the following day.

The Bundesliga champions have since confirmed he faces an indeterminate spell out of action as he begins a rehabilitation process this week.

Starke joins fellow goalkeeper Pepe Reina on the sidelines after the close-season signing injured his calf earlier this month.

Spain international Reina, who joined from Liverpool in August, was hurt when he featured in Bayern’s friendly with a Paulaner dream team of amateur footballers in Unterhaching.

It means Bayern are now short of experienced cover for regular No.1 and Germany international Manuel Neuer.

Bayern reserve-team shot-stopper Leopold Zingerie has now been called into the first-team squad for the club’s trip to Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Bayern to discuss Reus transfer, says Rummenigge

The Bavarians have long been linked with a move for the 25-year-old and are set to make a decision on a bid after internal talks

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says he will discuss a potential move for Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus with club chiefs.

The Bavarians have signed Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski from BVB in the last two summers and are rumoured to want to pay the 25-year-old’s buyout clause next summer, believed to be worth €25 million.

Gotze admitted on Sunday that he was keen to see his old team-mate join him at the Allianz Arena and Rummenigge has now confirmed the Bundesliga champions will make a decision on whether to launch a bid.

“To be honest, we’ll discuss the matter internally and calmly. Then we will come to a decision,” he told Kicker.

“At the end of the day, the player has to decide too. His release clause is well known. There’s nothing more to say.”

Dortmund have reacted angrily to Bayern’s interest in yet another of their stars, with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke speaking out against the Bundesliga champions several times for what he deemed to be a public courting of the player.

Bayern were in the race to sign Reus from Borussia Monchengladbach back in 2012 but were pipped to the post by their rivals.

Reus has one goal and two assists from his three Bundesliga appearances so far this season.

De Rossi: Roma play better in the Champions League

The experienced midfielder is confident the Serie A have what it takes to reach the knockout stages of the competition

Daniele De Rossi is optimistic about Roma’s chances against Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s Champions League encounter and has little doubt the Serie A side will survive the group stages.

Rudi Garcia’s men sit second in Group E after a 5-1 win over CSKA Moscow and a draw away to Manchester City and De Rossi feels they are in good shape to progress to the next round.

“I’m sure we can go through. I’ve seen enough from our play and how we approached the first two games,” the midfielder said at a press conference.

“The atmosphere of the Champions League always sends a shiver down your spine, it’s the biggest competition there is.

“Roma have always played good football in the Champions League, sometimes better than in Serie A.

“Our ambitions have changed since our last meeting with Bayern. That’s down to our performances last season. If we play like we can and take the game to them, we’ll make the fans proud. We’re not looking to draw the match.

“We’re at our best when we play with a smile on our faces. We’ll go out there to win, we’ve got some experienced players.”

Roma recorded a 3-2 win over Bayern the last time they met at the Stadio Olimpico in November 2010.

Guardiola has shown Barcelona's success was not just down to the players, says Garcia

The Frenchman has nothing but praise for his colleague and has acknowledged that Roma need to be on their best in order to beat Bayern

Roma coach Rudi Garcia has voiced his admiration for Bayern Munich chief Pep Guardiola ahead of their Champions League Group E encounter at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.

Guardiola won numerous trophies during his spell in charge of Barcelona and Garcia feels the Spaniard has shown that he played a big role in the club’s successes.

“Guardiola is one of the best: he made a very tough choice joining a club that had won everything the previous year,” Garcia said at a press conference.

“He has shown that Barcelona’s success wasn’t just down to the players, but the coach had his hand in it too.”

Garcia then went on to stress that Bayern are the team to beat at the Olimpico and stressed that Roma must show the right approach if they are to get a positive result.

“We know we’re outsiders. We’ve played two good matches but now we have to keep performing in the Champions League.

“We need to make the most of the spells in the game when we’re on top tomorrow: I expect the Olimpico to be packed.

“We need to be smart tomorrow, having the right approach is what makes the difference.

“We’ll do everything we can to make it hard for Bayern and ultimately pick up points. I’ve watched a lot of Bayern. I’m lucky to have intelligent footballers who can adapt to the game we’re playing.

“We always respect our opponents but we’re not afraid of anyone: we’re hungry and keen to perform well. We have one aim: we want to prove the people wrong who wrote us off straight after the draw.

Roma currently sit second in Group E with four points from two games, trailing leaders Bayern by two points.

Manchester City not as good as Bayern, insists Musa

The Nigeria international is optimistic about his side’s chances of getting a good result against the Premier League champions

Ahmed Musa is confident CSKA Moscow can get a good result in Tuesday’s Champions League match against Manchester City as he feels the Premier League outfit are not as good as Bayern Munich.

CSKA were beaten 1-0 by Bayern on matchday two after a heavy loss to Roma in their opening Group B game, but Musa is optimistic about their chances against City.

“For me, Manchester City are a weaker side than Bayern. They are not as strong as they were a year ago, and we can exploit that,” the Nigeria international said at a press conference.

“We have quick, experienced players and we can have a great match. I think we will get a result. Tuesday is our last chance to qualify for the next phase of the Champions League, and a big league win against Kuban [6-0] has left us feeling positive.

“We know Manchester City did not win their last two group stage games. We know  their weaknesses – that their defence is not so strong – and we will do our best to win. We know them from last year and have studied them well, and we will do all we can to get a result.”

CSKA were beaten 2-1 at home against City last term, before recording a 5-2 defeat in Manchester.

Roma-Bayern Munich Preview: Crunch clash at the Olimpico

The hosts have made an encouraging start to Group E, following up a demolition of CSKA with a draw at Manchester City, but the Bavarians boast a 100 per cent record

Roma striker Mattia Destro is urging his side to prove their quality when they test themselves against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

The Serie A title challengers have returned to the Champions League for the first time since 2011 this season and have made a bright start to their campaign.

A 5-1 Group E demolition of CSKA Moscow was followed by an encouraging 1-1 draw at Premier League champions Manchester City last month.

That sets the capital club up nicely for the challenge of facing Bayern – Champions League winners in 2012-13 and semi-finalists last term.

Destro scored in the fourth minute of Roma’s 3-0 win against Chievo on Saturday, a result that was the ideal response to a 3-2 loss at three-time defending Serie A champions Juventus.

And Roma’s latest win has Destro excited ahead of the visit of Pep Guardiola’s Bayern.

“It will be a wonderful match,” the striker told Sky Sport Italia. “We’ll be in front of our own fans, so we can’t wait.

“We were convinced [about our credentials] from the start of the season. We’ll go through our journey and see where we end up.

“We play every weekend and try to impose our football, always going for victory.”

Destro’s thoughts were echoed by Roma coach Rudi Garcia, who said he “really can’t wait” to play the Bundesliga champions.

Roma will also be wary of Manchester City, who sit third in the pool but have back-to-back clashes against CSKA Moscow on the horizon.

Bayern, meanwhile, top Group E after successive 1-0 triumphs and have won their last five matches in all competitions.

They have not conceded since August and thrashed rock-bottom Werder Bremen 6-0 in the Bundesliga on Saturday, with captain Philipp Lahm scoring a rare double.

Guardiola expressed his delight afterwards at how well his players had responded to international duty.

Robert Lewandowski was an unused substitute in the six-goal romp while Franck Ribery only played the last 29 minutes as Guardiola kept one eye on the European challenge ahead.

Bastian Schweinsteiger has finally returned to training after a knee injury but will not appear, while a recurrence of Thiago Alcantara’s own knee problem has him sidelined indefinitely.

The two sides met in Roma’s last Champions League campaign – Bayern winning 2-0 in Munich in September 2010 before overturning a two-goal deficit to win the return clash 3-2.

Roma clash is vital for Bayern, insists Xabi Alonso

The Spanish midfielder has underlined the importance of Tuesday’s encounter for the Bundesliga champions and thinks several teams have a shot at winning the Champions League

Xabi Alonso feels Tuesday’s Champions League against Roma will be vital for Bayern Munich’s chances of reaching the knockout stages, but has warned that Rudi Garcia’s men should not be underestimated.

Bayern currently top Group E with six points from two games and Alonso believes victory at the Stadio Olimpico would see them take a major step toward the next round.

“You could see last season that Roma have taken a step up – they are playing great stuff,” the Spaniard told Uefa’s official website.

“We faced them in a pre-season friendly with Madrid, so I know how they play.

“They are definitely going to be challenging for the Scudetto, and they want to reach the next stage in the Champions League.

“So for us, the one in Rome – the first one – is a vital game, because we have got six points from the first two games and we are in a good position.”

The influential midfielder then went on to stress that it’s hard to single out one team as the favourites to win the Champions League as there are several candidates that can go all the way.

“Favourites? Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, ourselves… Dortmund are always a tricky club to play against. So I respect lots of clubs; Paris Saint Germain as well. It’s quite open.”

Neuer: Bremen thrashing the perfect warm-up for Roma

The shot stopper is optimistic about his side’s chances against the Serie A outfit, but has stressed they must be at their best defensively

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer believes this weekend’s 6-0 Bundesliga win over Werder Bremen was the perfect warm-up for Tuesday’s Champions League game away against Roma.

Two goals apiece from Philipp Lahm, Mario Gotze and one each from Thomas Muller and Xabi Alonso helped the Bavarians to a comfortable win on Saturday and Neuer is confident they will be ready for the Serie A outfit.

“We were first class and it was a perfect warm-up for Roma,” Neuer was quoted as saying on the official Bayern website.

Nevertheless, the Germany international has warned his team-mates that the Stadio Olimpico outfit will not be pushovers and has stressed they cannot afford to lose focus in defence.

“Winning at their place will be tough.

“We’ll need another strong defensive display in order to bag the full three points.”

Bayern currently sit atop of Group E with six points from two games, while Roma follow in second place on four points.

Both sides last met in 2010-11, when the German champions recorded a 2-0 home-win, but were beaten 3-2 at the Olimpico.

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