BERLIN In-form Bayern Munich host Manchester City in their Champions League Group A game on Tuesday knowing that victory against the team that looks like their direct group rivals will put them in the driving seat.
Bayern go into their second group game in scintillating form, having won their last nine games in all competitions without conceding a single goal. They also won their group opener at Villarreal two weeks ago to lead the standings.
While Bayern have historic associations with the city of Manchester, they are linked to United rather than City.
United's 1958 air crash in Munich that decimated the team and the 1999 Champions League final where United snatched a last-gasp victory over Bayern are two significant dates in Munich.
But Bayern are more eager to look ahead than back, with this season's Champions League final to be held in the Bavarian capital and Bayern eager for a shot at a fifth title.
"In the form we are currently in the only team that can beat us is ourselves," said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm after their 3-0 league win over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
Bayern also saw the return of Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who had been out since late August with a groin injury. He could not have hoped for a better comeback himself as he scored the third goal 12 minutes after coming on.
Mario Gomez is also expected to start again after playing against Leverkusen, following a brief absence due to a groin injury.
"The team is well-prepared, hugely motivated and I am very optimistic," said club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
"City are the favourites in the group together with us so it would be great if we could beat them on Tuesday."
Debutants City suffered a case of first-night nerves in their opening 1-1 draw at home to Napoli two weeks ago and coach Roberto Mancini vowed his team would be much calmer for the trip to Munich.
The English side go into the game full of confidence having beaten Everton 2-0 at the weekend and stand level on points with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.
Carlos Tevez could be preferred to Edin Dzeko up front after the Bosnian produced a below-par showing on Saturday and was substituted by Mario Balotelli in the 60th minute.
Balotelli, who scored eight minutes after coming, is not available for the trip to Germany as he will be serving the second of a three-match European ban.
Mancini is expecting a more open game with Bayern than against Napoli.
"Bayern are like us. They play good football and they play to win," local media quoted the Italian as saying.
"This will be different to when we played Napoli. Bayern will attack because that is their mentality. It will be very open."
City players will come up against a familiar face with old boy Jerome Boateng now a Bayern player following a close-season move from the English club.
"It always happens like that, doesn't it? When I saw the draw I just sensed Bayern might end up against City," Boateng told the Sunday Times.
"My main reaction was that the whole group is so tough. Any of these teams could easily finish top. It's one each from the strongest four leagues.
"City have such a strong squad in the attacking positions, it will be a very big test for us. I was looking at some of the scorelines they were getting and I thought 'Phew!'"
City have already notched 19 goals in six games in an unbeaten start to their Premier League campaign with Argentina striker Sergio Aguero scoring eight of them.
Bayern Munich: 1-Manuel Neuer; 21-Philipp Lahm, 5-Daniel van Buyten, 28-Holger Badstuber, 13-Rafinha; 31-Bastian Schweinsteiger, 30-Luiz Gustavo, 25-Thomas Mueller, 7-Franck Ribery, 10-Arjen Robben; 33-Mario Gomez;
Manchester City: 25-Joe Hart; 4-Vincent Kompany, 5-Pablo Zabaleta, 6-Joleon Lescott, 13-Aleksandr Kolarov; 18-Gareth Barry, 19-Samir Nasri, 42-Yaya Toure; 21-David Silva, 32-Carlos Tevez, 16-Sergio Aguero;
Trending On Reuters
Real Madrid handed Atletico Madrid another cruel Champions League final defeat when Cristiano Ronaldo's spot kick saw them beat their neighbours on penalties to win Europe's top club trophy for a record 11th time. Full Article | Real win