Rummenigge: Bayern level with Barça
Bayern Munich are off the pace in the Bundesliga, but chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says his side are on "eye-level" with European giants Barcelona, ahead of Friday's UEFA Champions League draw.
When the last-16 draw is made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, last season's finalists Bayern will avoid drawing Barcelona in February's ties as both sides won their respective groups.
Both teams can only draw sides who finished second in their groups, but Rummenigge says his Bayern side can match mighty Barcelona - once all their players are back from injury.
"I think when we have all our players back fit, it would not be easy for Barcelona. We are at eye-level with them," Rummenigge told German daily Bild.
Despite Bayern lagging 17 points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund in the German league, Rummenigge is convinced they could match Spanish league leaders Barcelona, if the sides were to meet.
Bayern will welcome back Dutch winger Arjen Robben, Croatia striker Ivica Olic and Germany veteran Miroslav Klose from injury in January, with the Bundesliga set to start the three-week winter break this Sunday.
Plus Bayern have been buoyed by stars Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger both signing contract extensions recently. Rummenigge says his side can start to catch up with runaway leaders Dortmund when the season resumes on 14 January, when Dortmund are at second-placed Leverkusen.
"We will have Arjen back and Bastian has set an example," said Rummenigge. "We can be optimistic about the future. We want to develop the team. We are willing to spend money, but with it must come quality."
No goalkeeping problem
Reports have linked Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to a possible move to Bayern, but Rummenigge says they are perfectly happy with 36-year-old veteran Hans-Jorg Butt.
"I say with full conviction: we do not have a goalkeeper problem," insisted Rummenigge. "Jorg Butt is a first-class goalkeeper and in Thomas Kraft we have a first-class reserve, so there is no point talking about a replacement. Whether we will do something about it in the future, I can not say seriously."
But Rummenigge says there is the potential to strengthen their defence, especially at centre back. "We are ready to upgrade in defence. But it must be the best quality," he said.
Bayern play Stuttgart in the league on Sunday and then again in the German Cup on Wednesday, and will be without midfielder Toni Kroos who has a foot injury while captain Mark van Bommel is struggling with flu.