Bayern not taking Zurich lightly
Bayern Munich take the first step towards what they hope will be a dream run to a UEFA Champions League final at their home stadium next May when they host Swiss side FC Zurich in the play-off round first-leg match on Wednesday.
Having finished third in last season's Bundesliga, Bayern are in the qualifying rounds for the first time since 2002 and face a Zurich team who have only made the group stages once before.
Bayern will be able to call on Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who sat out during Saturday's win at Wolfsburg due to back problems. "He has been training very well for three days," Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes said.
It means Heynckes is likely to use French winger Franck Ribery of France alongside Robben to give Bayern a much-needed boost in attack, but the Bavarian giants are not taking Zurich lightly.
"An incredible amount rests on these two games in terms of both finance and image," said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "Everyone here wants to reach the Champions League's group phase."
Bayern have had a faltering start to the season after they were beaten 1-0 at home by Borussia Moenchengladbach on the opening weekend. They bounced back with a late winner from Brazil midfielder Luiz Gustavo at VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday, although they did see a first-half goal from Patrick Helmes ruled out for offside.
Zurich scored twice late on as they secured a fine 2-1 win over Basel at the weekend, and Bayern will be under pressure to perform at home on Wednesday.
Having spent around €35 million to recruit Germany's top goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Jerome Boateng, the pair combined for the blunder against Gladbach which cost Bayern defeat.
Vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has complained about a lack of team spirit and the Bavarian giants were again unimpressive against Wolfsburg.
Zurich's last European away success was a 1-0 victory at AC Milan in the 2009/10 Champions League group stage, so Bayern will be aware of their threat. Though this will be Bayern's first competitive meeting with FC Zurich. The second leg will take place on 23 August at Zurich's Letzigrund Stadium.