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Van Gaal hoping history doesn't repeat in Munich

Coach Louis van Gaal is be hoping his Bayern Munich team can stop titleholder Inter Milan from repeating the feat in the last-16 match on Tuesday.

AP, Monday 14 Mar 2011
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Bayern Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal
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Bayern won 1-0 in the first leg in Milan, and the departing Van Gaal has good reason to believe the return game won't be his last in the competition with the German team.

Only Van Gaal's Ajax side in 1996 has won a Champions League knockout match after losing at home, going down 1-0 in Amsterdam before winning 3-0 in Athens in the semifinals. Ajax, the defending champion, lost on penalties to Juventus in the final.

"I wasn't aware of that statistic but I believe the gentleman from UEFA," Van Gaal said Monday. "So statistically we have the advantage." Bayern played one of its better matches of the season to win in Milan, but it ushered in a turbulent couple of weeks that culminated in Van Gaal's contract being cut short after three straight defeats.

Bayern is out of the German Cup and is 16 points behind runaway Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund. Bayern is realistically targeting a second-place league finish to seal an automatic place in next season's Champions League.

That means that both titles Van Gaal won in his first season are gone. Bayern reacted by forcing Van Gaal to leave at the end of the season, one year early.
The only title Bayern can still win is in the Champions League.

When Bayern lost 2-0 to Inter in last season's final, the opposing coach was Jose Mourinho. Now, it's Leonardo, but Van Gaal said Inter's game hasn't changed much.

"To win tomorrow we have to beat the champion and it's not going to be easy. I don't think they'll play any differently than they did at home," Van Gaal said. "They played the first leg the same way they played the final last year. I think we were the better then too but we didn't score." The late goal in Milan came from Mario Gomez, the Bayern striker who has scored 28 times in 36 games this season.

Playing the role of reporter on Monday, Van Gaal asked Gomez "in which minute will you score?" "In which minute do you want me to score, coach?" replied Gomez, to which Van Gaal said: "If only it were that easy." Gomez believes Bayern can go all the way.

"It's the only title we can win, so why not," he said.

"We can do it." "They have a coach who tries more in the attack, who not only defends. But we know the Italian sides can play for a result." Bayern goes into the match bolstered by a 6-0 drubbing of Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga after a hat trick by Arjen Robben and inspiring play by Franck Ribery, who also scored.

The win was a huge relief and put Bayern seven points behind second-place Bayer Leverkusen.

Van Gaal said he was an "emotional" coach who placed value in relationships and that may make it more difficult for his players.

"A professional should always focus on the upcoming game but many things can influence a game," Van Gaal said.

While Bayern celebrated its biggest win of the season, Inter struggled to a 1-1 draw with Brescia and could be without Brazilian central defender Lucio because of a leg injury. Bayern said all of its players are fit.

Lucio will travel to Munich, but if he's unable to play, Ivan Cordoba or Cristian Chivu will likely pair with Andrea Ranocchia in central defense.

Diego Milito, who scored both goals in last year's final, was included in the squad but is unlikely to play because of injury, meaning Goran Pandev will probably partner Samuel Eto'o in attack.

Pandev noted that Inter needs to beat Bayern 2-0 like it did in last year's final.

"This is just like a final, and if we play like Inter we can replicate that great result," Pandev said. "We've got to attack Bayern from the opening minute and score to put pressure on them." Eto'o has scored 31 goals this season for Inter in all competitions, including seven in the Champions League, and believes his team can repeat Ajax's feat in 1996.

"They won (in Milan), so why can't we win there?" Eto'o said. "With all due respect for such a great club, we can do it."

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