Citizens arrest in Munich?

Can Mancini's men stop Bayern? Photo wikimedia/Roger GoraczniakAmid the frivolity and frothy masses of the Oktoberfest, match day two of the Champions League has thrown up a mouth-watering clash as Bayern Munich take on Manchester City at the Allianz Arena.

Vastly experienced European heavyweights and 4-time winners Bayern approach their 151st game in the competition against Premier League visitors embarking on their debut campaign. It is a tie which immediately caught the eye when the group stage draw was made last month and confirms City's new-found status amongst Europe's elite.

Bayern defenders Jerome Boateng and Daniel van Buyten are both ex-Citizens, with the former making the move this summer. Coach Jupp Heynckes will be keenly monitoring the fitness of German international defender Holger Badstuber, who is suffering with flu.

An individual battle between van Buyten and City's new Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero would appear to be a little bit of a mismatch.

German international Boateng is now looking forward to lining up against his former club, having not really shown his best form during his time in North West England. The versatile 23-year-old defender failed to establish himself as a regular in the City side after suffering some niggling injuries, although he insists it was largely a positive experience.

"In many ways I was very unlucky. There were two lay-offs because of injury but apart from those I really enjoyed it," he explained.

"I liked the club and I liked the Premier League, which is a good challenge for any defender."

Boateng acknowledges that trying to contain City will be a particularly difficult challenge, saying: "City have such a strong squad in attacking positions, that it will be a very big test for us.''

 "I was looking at some of the scorelines they were getting and I thought 'Phew!'"

The record Bundesliga champions will also not be looking forward to seeing Edin Dzeko again. The Bosnian striker always lifted his game against Bayern when he played for VfL Wolfsburg, scoring four goals and provided two assists in the last five games.

Dzeko has conceded that his overall record against the German giants is "not good" but that could also certainly sum up the overall performance of English clubs in the Bavarian capital. Out of 15 English sides, Norwich City are the only side to have beaten Bayern in their own backyard in a UEFA Cup tie some 18 years ago.

City's coach Roberto Mancini is spoilt for choice for attacking options as he can also draft want-away striker Carlos Tevez into his starting line-up.

"I am sure that I can choose well because I have Carlos, Edin and Sergio to pick from," said the Italian.

Owen Hargreaves, a Champions League winner with the Bavarians, has not been registered for Europe, so he is denied a chance to face his former club.

The challenge ahead of Mancini's team is a formidable one. Bayern are top of the Bundesliga, with nine consecutive wins in all competitions since their shock opening day defeat at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has not conceded a goal for 838 minutes.

French winger Franck Ribéry is exuding confidence ahead of the game: "Barcelona are a great team but we are getting close," he said. "I have never seen a Bayern team as strong as the one we have now. If we carry on playing the way we are, nobody can stop us."

Nevertheless, Mancini refuses to be intimidated and insists his team can win.

"Why not?" he said.

"We are not here to lose. We know it will be difficult but we want to win if possible.

"But if we want to arrive on the top like Bayern Munich, who have such a big history, we need to work very hard."

There has been a close bond between Munich and Manchester ever since 23 people - including eight Manchester United players - perished on a plane trying to take off at Riem Airport after a refuelling stop in 1958 on their way back from a European match in the former Yugoslavia.

City shed tears too, a fact the club has stressed over the last few years as they have manfully tried to eradicate the disgraceful anti-Munich chants.

Club secretary Bernard Halford will lead a delegation that will lay a wreath in honour of the fallen, which included former City goalkeeper Frank Swift.

The delegation will lay the wreath at a memorial stone in Munich's Manchesterplatz that marks the tragic crash.


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