Bayern will dazzle once more against Lille, says Hitzfeld

Ottmar Hitzfeld believes Bayern Munich will be at their usual best again in Wednesday’s Champions League Group F encounter at home against Lille after a sub-par performance against Les Dogues in the away fixture.

The Switzerland boss feels that the Bavarians were distracted by their shock loss to BATE prior to their trip to France, but he has little doubt that the team will put in a scintillating performance once more at the Allianz Arena.
 
“Bayern were under pressure in Lille after the defeat to BATE Borisov. You could see that in the players,” Hitzfeld said to the official Bundesliga site.

“Therefore, more emphasis was placed on defending rather than going all-out attack. It was a hard-fought win and was all about the result. That was important.

“Munich will dazzle once again at the Allianz Arena, of that I’m sure. There’ll be no slip-up against Lille.

“Nothing much needs to be said about Bayern. They’re the cream of the crop. The defeat to BATE Borisov came at the right time. Wake-up calls don’t do anyone any harm.

“Bayern have got so much quality in their squad, nothing will go wrong in the group stage.”

Wednesday’s encounter at the Allianz Arena will kick off at 20:45CET.

Beckenbauer confident of victory against Lille

Former Germany defender Franz Beckenbauer has spoken optimistically of Bayern Munich’s Champions League hopes, believing their domestic victory over Hamburg at the weekend was the perfect way to build up to their European tie.

The current Bundesliga leaders face Lille in the group stages on Wednesday evening, and move into the game confidently, after a convincing 3-0 away win at the weekend.

Last year’s finalists sit joint top of Group F, with BATE Borisov and Valencia who are all on 6 points and a valuable win against the bottom side tomorrow night would put die Roten in a strong position to qualify from the group.

“This is very positive, it all bodes well,” admitted Beckenbauer, speaking to tz-online.

“The response against HSV was strong, which was really great.”

The ‘Kaiser’ is confident that Bayern can perform well, despite criticisms from sporting director Matthias Sammer who believes the club have been under performing of late.

“[Sammer] is an important man, but the players are more important. They are the ones who have to perform.”

Nobody can stop Ribery, warns Dante

EXCLUSIVE
By Hocine Harzoune

Bayern Munich defender Dante has warned Lille that Franck Ribery will be too much for them to handle when the two sides clash in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Prior to his half-time withdrawal due to injury, the Frenchman terrorised his former club on matchday two, and he returned to the starting line-up for Sunday’s 3-0 win over Hamburg.

And the Brazilian, who spent two years at LOSC between 2004 and 2006, is certain that his old club face a playmaker determined to haunt LOSC once again at the Allianz Arena.

“Ribery is a great player,” he told Goal.com. “These matches against Lille are special for him and I hope that he can play again to help our team beat les Dogues.

“As for the Lille defence, I think that they respect Ribery’s game and will try to interfere with it, but nobody can stop him when he is having a good day.”

Lille stand on the brink of elimination from European football, and Dante believes that Rudi Garcia’s side have suffered from bad luck on the big stage this season.

“Lille have a good team, but things are not going well for them this year. This happens in football. I hope for their sake that they don’t start a good run against us in the Champions League!

“We need to win onn Wednesday to qualify for the knock-out stages and we are in a race of three to qualify along with BATE and Valencia.

“Lille played very well against us and a lot of the times the match was square. The game could have ended in their favour.

“But, fortunately for us, we were able to counter their attacks without letting them score. The next match is also difficult. Hopefully we’ll win this time too.

Finally, Dante refused to rule out a return to Ligue 1, but emphasised that he was enjoying his stay at Bayern for the time being.

“Anything can happen in football, but I just arrived at Bayern and I intend to see out the last four years of my contract.

“Not many of my old team-mates are still at Lille, but I am looking forward to seeing Mathieu Debuchy.”

Manchester United, Barcelona and the Champions League teams who can clinch qualification to the last 16 on matchday four

With half the Champions League group-stage fixtures played, Manchester United, Barcelona, Porto and Malaga already harbour genuine ambitions of securing a place in the last 16 on matchday four.

All three teams have 100 per cent records from their first three games, and a fourth win will see them safely into the next round. Depending on results elsewhere, they could even guarantee themselves top spot.

Barcelona travel to Glasgow knowing that victory over Celtic will clinch qualification, while Manchester United visit Sporting Braga and Malaga head for the San Siro to face AC Milan.

In some of the tighter brackets, Schalke host Arsenal with both sides looking to take control of Group B, while Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid will fight it out for top spot in Group D at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Chelsea will be looking for revenge when they host Shakhtar Donetsk, who ran out 2-1 winners two weeks ago. Elsewhere in Group E, Juventus welcome Nordsjaelland as the Bianconeri aim for their first win of the campaign.

The Danes are one of several sides who desperately need a victory if they are to defy the odds and qualify for the next round. Manchester City, Montpellier, Anderlecht, Benfica and Galatasaray are the other teams who have just one point to their name so far.

And after slumping to three defeats from three matches, both Lille and Dinamo Zagreb will be knocked out of the Champions League if they lose to Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.

  • Porto can qualify for the last 16 with victory over Dynamo Kiev.
  • Dinamo Zagreb will be eliminated from the Champions League if they lose to PSG.

  • Schalke can clinch Europa League football at least if they beat Arsenal, and Olympiakos beat Montpellier
  • Arsenal can do likewise if they defeat Schalke and Olympiakos beat Montpellier

  • Malaga will qualify for the last 16 if they overcome AC Milan.
  • Malaga can also qualify as group winners if they win and Zenit St Petersburg fail to beat Anderlecht.

  • Borussia Dortmund can secure a Europa League spot at least if they beat Real Madrid and Ajax defeat Manchester City
  • Real Madrid can do likewise if they overcome Dortmund and Ajax beat Manchester City

  • Shakhtar can qualify for the Europa League at least if they beat Chelsea and Nordsjaelland fail to take three points from Juventus.

  • Valencia and BATE Borisov can secure Europa League football at least if they win or draw, as long as Bayern Munich beat Lille.
  • If Bayern do beat Lille, the Germans can finish no lower than third.
  • Lille will be eliminated from the Champions League if they lose to Bayern.

  • Barcelona will qualify for the last 16 if they beat Celtic.
  • Barcelona can also qualify as group winners if they win and Benfica get at least a point against Spartak Moscow.
  • Benfica will be eliminated from the Champions League if they lose to Spartak Moscow due to an inferior head-to-head record.

  • Manchester United will qualify for the last 16 if they beat Sporting Braga.
  • Manchester United can also qualify as group winners if they win and CFR Cluj fail to beat Galatasaray.
  • Galatasaray will be eliminated from the Champions League if they lose to CFR Cluj due to an inferior head-to-head record.
The finale of the 2012 European Championship group stage qualifiers has arrived. With only one more matchday to go, it’s time for the proverbial do or die.

Germany became the first team to join co-hosts Poland and Ukraine in the tournament finals, and Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and England have since followed them.

That leaves the likes of France, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Serbia and Scotland, among others, to tussle for the remaining nine spots: four will go to the group winners, one to the best runners-up amongst all the groups, and four more via the play-offs.

Which teams will safely secure automatic entry to the Euro 2012 finals this Tuesday? Who will have to settle for the two-legged play-off? And which nation will have their hearts broken?

First, here is a reminder of the qualification rules:

– Group winners qualify automatically for the finals.

– One group runner-up with the best record (most points in games against the top five teams in the group) will also gain direct qualification.

– The remaining eight runners-up will contest a two-legged play-off and the winners will qualify to make up the 16 finalists.

– If teams are level on points at the end of the group matches, the following tie-breaker criteria will take precedence:
   i.) higher number of points won in the group games between the teams in question
  ii.) superior goal difference in the group games between the teams in question only
 iii.) higher number of goals scored in the group games between the teams in question only
 iv.) higher number of goals scored away from home in the group games between the teams in question only

KEY:
Q = Qualified for last 16
W = Group winners
X = Cannot advance to last 16
E = Qualified for Europa League round of 32

MATCHDAY FIVE:
Bayern Munich v Villarreal
Napoli v Manchester City
  • Bayern Munich will qualify for the last 16 with a victory or a draw on matchday five. They will be guaranteed as group winners if they beat Villarreal and Manchester City fail to match their result.
  • Manchester City can only qualify for the last 16 on matchday five with a win over Napoli. Victory will also ensure they stay in the race to finish as group winners.
  • Napoli will not progress ay further if they lose to Manchester City. A win will not only keep them in contention for a last 16 berth but will guarantee them a place in the Europa League round of 32.
  • Villarreal cannot advance any further in the Champions League. They can only stay in the race for a Europa League spot if they beat Bayern Munich and Napoli fail to win against Manchester City.

MATCHDAY FIVE:
CSKA Moscow v Lille
Trabzonspor v Inter
  • Inter will qualify for the last 16 as long as they avoid defeat to Trabzonspor. A victory will ensure they win the group with one matchday to spare. A draw will be enough provided CSKA Moscow do not beat Lille.
  • CSKA Moscow will qualify for the last 16 as group runners-up if they win on matchday five and Trabzonspor lose. 
  • Trabzonspor cannot guarantee last 16 qualification on matchday five even with a victory and a CSKA Moscow defeat. However, they will be out of contention if they lose to Inter and CSKA win. They will ensure a Europa League spot as long as Lille fail to at least equal their result on matchday five.
  • Lille need a win to stay in the race for a last 16 berth. A draw against CSKA Moscow with a 2-2 score or higher will keep them in contention, provided Trabzonspor lose on matchday five.

MATCHDAY FIVE:
Manchester United v Benfica
Otelul Galati v Basel
  • Manchester United will qualify for the last 16 as long as they avoid defeat on matchday five and Basel lose to Otelul Galati. They will be guaranteed as group winners if they beat Benfica and Basel fail to win.
  • Benfica will qualify for the last 16 as long as they avoid defeat on matchday five and Basel lose to Otelul Galati. They will be guaranteed as group winners if they beat Manchester United, regardless of Basel’s result.
  • Basel must avoid defeat on matchday five and hope Benfica do not win to stay in contention for a last 16 place. They will, however, be guaranteed a place in the Europa League round of 32 as long as they do not lose to Otelul Galati.
  • Otelul Galati cannot advance any further in the Champions League. They will be eliminated from European competition altogether if they fail to win against Basel.

MATCHDAY FIVE:
Lyon v Ajax
Real Madrid v Dinamo Zagreb
  • Real Madrid have qualified for the last 16. They will win the group on matchday five if they beat Dinamo Zagreb. A draw will be enough provided Ajax fail to defeat Lyon.
  • Ajax will be assured of a last 16 spot with a win at Lyon. A score draw will be sufficient as they drew 0-0 at home in the reverse fixture. 
  • Lyon must win on matchday five to stay in the hunt for a last 16 berth. However, they will secure a place in the Europa League provided Dinamo Zagreb do not better their result.
  • Dinamo Zagreb cannot advance any further in the Champions League. They will be eliminated from European competition altogether if they lose at Real Madrid. However, a victory will not be enough if Lyon win against Ajax.

Bayern Munich – Lille Preview: Bavarians have sensational home record

Bayern Munich can be expected to name much of the same team that beat Hamburg 3-0 on Saturday. At the back, Holger Badstuber remains sidelined, allowing Dante to take his place against his former club, with David Alaba at left-back.

In midfield, Jupp Heynckes has the choice between Luiz Gustavo and Javi Martinez in midfield, having rotated the two, while Franck Ribery will start on the left wing, after making a comeback at the Imtech Arena. Up front, Mario Mandzukic will continue, thanks to the continued absence of Mario Gomez, who is back in training after ankle surgery in the summer.

Meanwhile, Lille will be missing several key names for the trip to the Allianz Arena. Mathieu Debuchy and Marko Basa both limped out of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Evian with calf and hamstring injuries respectively.

They join Idriss Gueye (ankle), Ryan Mendes (ankle), Lucas Digne (thigh) and Adama Sourmaoro on the Grand Stade Lille Metropole treatment table. However, Rio Mavuba could return in midfield. Tulio De Melo and Nolan Roux will compete for a place up front.

  • Franck Ribery (pictured, right), and Dante both spent time at Lille in their careers, but had to leave the club after finding their respective paths to the first team blocked.
  • Jupp Heynckes’ side are one of just two teams to beat Lille on their own turf in 11 Champions League games in France.
  • Lille have never scored in Germany, and have lost all three of their fixtures away to Bundesliga sides.
  • Florent Balmont has been fouled more 13 fouls, more than any other player in the competition.
  • On the other hand the French side have picked up 10 bookings, the joint most in the tournament alongside Anderlecht. Lucas Digne and Benoit Pedretti are one yellow card away from a suspension.