Bayern Munich are confident they have returned to top form just in time for their Champions League round...
Bayern Munich are confident they have returned to top form just in time for their Champions League round of 16 first leg against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday after their biggest Bundesliga win in 31 years on Saturday.
The German champions’ dress rehearsal ahead of the trip to Ukraine was a resounding success as they demolished Hamburg SV 8-0 in a flawless performance that saw Dutchman Arjen Robben continue his impressive form by scoring two goals.
Victory for Bayern, who had won just one of the previous three league games before Saturday’s drubbing of Hamburg, delighted coach Pep Guardiola after his side made a stuttering return from the winter break.
“Now we can focus on our first Champions League game this year. I am happy that our playing style is back,” the Spaniard said. “Obviously the mood in the team is now much better.”
Guardiola will recall midfielder Xabi Alonso for the game in Lviv after he was rested on Saturday, while winger Franck Ribery and defender Rafinha are in contention after recovering from injuries in time to play against Hamburg.
Defender Jerome Boateng will also make the trip after sitting out a two-match ban in Germany.
Shakhtar, hosting Bayern in Lviv as their hometown is at the centre of a military conflict, would have wished for an easier challenge in their first competitive game after a two-month winter break.
However, Shakhtar, who are looking for their first home win against a German side for over 35 years, filled their lack of domestic action by training in Brazil in January.
Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano, who netted nine times in the Champions League group stage, believes Shakhtar are well-prepared for the visit of Bayern.
“We have paid a lot of attention to find out their weaknesses,” he said. “We want to know everything about our rivals so there are no surprises during the game as they are not always pleasant.
“Our first task is to win. We would never be content with a draw, even against Bayern.”
Shakhtar will be without defensive midfielder Taras Stepanenko who is banned, while striker Bernard is an injury concern with a ligaments inflammation.
“They are in a different pace, playing competitive games every three or four days,” said Adriano. “But still we are in a great physical shape. There are a few training sessions left so we will be fully prepared.”