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Klinsmann relishing Champions League foray

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Aug 2008

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Bayern Munich coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he was relishing his first foray into the Champions League after the German giants drew Olympique Lyon, Fiorentina and Steaua Bucharest in the group stages.

Bayern last lifted the Champions League trophy in 2001, but were back in the pot for Thursday night's Champions League group-stage draw in Monte Carlo after spending last season in the UEFA Cup.

Having dominated German domestic football last season, Bayern's bosses want them to be one of the side's contesting the final in Rome's Olympic Stadium on May 27.

And for Bayern's Italian striker Luca Toni, the draw means a return to his former club Fiorentina on November 5.

“This group has plenty in it,” said Klinsmann after hearing Bayern's Group F opponents.

“Lyon will be a hurdle to overcome, Fiorentina has its attraction because of Luca Toni, it will no doubt be a very exciting affair.”

But Bayern chairman of the board Karl-Heinz Rummenigge warned against taking any of their opponents lightly.

He said: “This is a group no one should underestimate, but the match against Fiorentina will be delicacy for Luca Toni and our fans.”

There is no lacking for confidence in Bayern's ranks. “We are FC Bayern, we will go far,” said their French midfielder Franck Ribery, who is hoping to have recovered from his ankle injury in time for Bayern's first game on September 17 at Steaua Bucharest.

“I would not have preferred to play against a big club like Chelsea, Manchester or Arsenal – it's good to play Lyon. From my own experience, I know what they are like.”

Meanwhile, Werder Bremen will be taking a trip into the unknown in Group B where they face Greek side Panathinaikos and Anorthosis Famagusta from Cyprus as well as Italian giants Inter Milan.

Famagusta became Cyprus's first Champions League group stage representatives after completing a 3-1 aggregate victory against Olympiakos.

Bremen's director of football Klaus Allofs said their group was interesting, if not spectacular.

“I would be a liar, if I said we could not solve this task,” said Allofs, pointing to Inter as their biggest obstacle to the knock-out stages.

“We are happy. Even if the group does not appear spectacular on the first view, it is interesting.

“Inter Milan is a big challenge and the Greeks can be very hard to beat.

“Our fans will experience a first against Famagusta, so the group is not without its attractions.”

Bremen begin their Champions League quest on September 16 at home to Famagusta and finish in Bremen on December 9 against Inter.

Bayern and Bremen are Germany's only Champions League representatives after Schalke 04 were humbled 4-0 at Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night which puts them in the UEFA Cup next season.

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