Bayern eager to live up to Pires’ ‘top favourites’ billing


Munich (Germany) (AFP) – After sweeping Barcelona aside in their opening Champions League game, Bayern Munich want to live up their “top favourites” billing at home to Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday.

“We want to win the Champions League and we have a team with which we can do that,” winger Serge Gnabry said Tuesday ahead of the Group E game in Munich as Bayern seek to build on their 3-0 win at Barca.

“Game by game, we make sure that we don’t let up. We have a lot of fun playing and we want to keep it that way.”

At the weekend, France legend Robert Pires told magazine Kicker he sees Bayern as the “absolute top favourites” to win this season’s Champions League.

“I don’t see a better team in Europe than FC Bayern,” added the 47-year-old 1998 World Cup winner.

Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann acknowledged Pires’ remarks and said the Kiev game is an “important opportunity to confirm that we can be one of the favourites”.

The hosts are at near full strength with striker Robert Lewandowski looking to add to the two goals he scored in Barcelona.

French winger Kingsley Coman continues to recover for surgery for an irregular heartbeat and is the main absentee from the likely starting line-up.

Kiev have eight wins and a draw from nine Ukranian league games and were held to a goalless draw at home by Benfica in the Champions League, but lost 3-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk last week in the Ukranian Super Cup.

Nagelsmann insisted he has done his homework.

“I always claim to know everything about the opponent,” Nagelsmann stressed, “we’ve watched just as many games of Kiev as of Greuther Fuerth and Barcelona.”

Bayern have chalked up 40 goals in winning their last eight games in all competitions, including a 7-0 drubbing of Bochum in the Bundesliga and 12-0 thrashing of fifth-tier minnows Bremer in the German Cup.

Nagelsmann embodied the “fun” atmosphere Gnabry mentioned by whizzing around the Saebener Strasse training ground on an electric-powered skateboard.

The 34-year-old then joined a group of playful senior players attempting to land shots through the open window of the physio’s first-floor office.

“Many see it critically when I mess around at the age of 34, but I want to radiate enthusiasm for the job,” Nagelsmann explained.

“I wanted to be a footballer and I did everything for it,” he added. A knee injury ended his playing career prematurely.

“I still like to play football, not on the level of my players, but on a manageable level with my assistant coaches.”

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