Bayern looks to extend lead over Manchester City

AP, Monday 26 Sep 2011

Bayern Munich regards Manchester City as its biggest rival in Group A of the Champions League and looking to keep pushing past it the expensively-assembled team when they meet Tuesday

Munich's players (Photo: AP)

Bayern is off to an impressive start both in the domestic competition and in the Champions League. The club won 2-0 at Villarreal while Manchester City drew 1-1 with Napoli at home. Napoli hosts Villarreal in Tuesday’s other match.

“If we win, we’ll have a five-point margin over City and that would be a good start,” club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

His club has set its sights on winning the title for the fifth time, especially since the Champions League final next May is in Bayern’s Allianz Arena.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve never experienced a better Bayern side,” Bayern’s France winger Franck Ribery told Kicker magazine on Monday. “This is the best Bayern side I’ve ever seen.

“If we keep playing like this, we have a chance of playing for the title.”

Bayern lost its first game of the Bundesliga season but won the next six to open a two-point lead. It has scored 21 goals and conceded only one.

Bayern’s scout Egon Cordes said City quickly moves forward once it has won the ball, “with a lot of speed and pressure.”

He singled out Samir Nasri as a player of “extra class.”

City, which is level on points with Premier League leader Manchester United after six games, cannot really afford to lose at the Allianz Arena after dropping points at home to Napoli.

“I think we can attack them like we do at home,” City’s Spain playmaker David Silva said. “We can stick to our footballing principles. We don’t have to change our style against other teams home or away.

“The truth is Napoli played very well against us. They are a strong team. But against Bayern we will try the same things - to keep the ball, play with the same style and get a positive result.”

City’s strikers Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero have scored 15 goals between them this season, but Bayern’s players believe in their own strength.

“The way we are playing, we can lose only through our own doing,” Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said.

Bayern’s latest victim in the Bundesliga was fellow Champions League entrant Bayer Leverkusen, which was swept aside 3-0 in such convincing style on Saturday that Leverkusen’s director Rudi Voeller said Jupp Heynckes’ team is currently playing at the level of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“It’s going to be difficult to beat us if we play like that,” Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. “But Tuesday’s match will be our toughest challenge until now in the season.”

Napoli will be making its home debut in the Champions League, having last appeared in the old European Cup after Diego Maradona led the southern club to Italian titles in 1987 and 1990.

Napoli has had an up-and-down season thus far, drawing 1-1 at Manchester City in its Champions League opener and beating AC Milan 3-1 with a hat trick from Edinson Cavani, but then losing 1-0 at Chievo Verona and drawing 0-0 at home with Fiorentina on Saturday.

Supported by some of the most devoted fans in Italy, Napoli has big potential in attack with Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Cavani—who are known as the “Three Tenors.”

Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi is doubtful.

Rossi will travel with the team but it will be “a last minute decision” on whether the Italian international plays after injuring his left knee during Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao.

Villarreal also said that Rossi’s possible replacement Marco Ruben will be out for three weeks after hurting his left foot.

Brazil striker Nilmar could be joined by Javier Camunas in attack if Rossi does not play. Midfielder Borja Valero is suspended.

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