VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) - Bayern Munich are treating their clash with joint Group F pacesetters Valencia like a final given a berth in the Champions League last 16 is up for grabs, Javi Martinez said on Monday.
Last year’s finalists travel to the Mestalla with nine points from four games, but having beaten Valencia 2-1 earlier in the campaign the Germans would assure themselves qualification with another win.
“Both teams will be going for it,” Bayern’s Spain midfielder Martinez told a news conference.
”We are in a position where by winning we qualify for the next round. It is like a mini-final for the Group.
“The Mestalla is a tough stadium. Whenever I went there with Athletic Bilbao we always had problems. But now I am arriving with Bayern it is a different story.”
Martinez, who has winners medals from the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, was signed for a German record 40 million euros from Bilbao in August but has been used sparingly by his coach Jupp Heynckes.
“When I arrived at Bayern, one of the first things I did was meet with Heynckes and plan the season,” the versatile 24-year-old added.
”With Bilbao last season I played more than 60 games and over the summer I only had nine days holiday after Euro 2012 and the London Olympics.
“We decided to take it one step at a time. It would have been madness to play me in every game, because I would have been destroyed after two months.”
Heynckes said he was satisfied with Martinez’s progress.
”I am pleased and his colleagues are too. They expect him to be a ‘top’ player very soon.
“Team captain Philipp Lahm told me ‘this is just the player we needed.'”
Bayern have a doubt over France winger Franck Ribery, who has bruised ribs, but Heynckes gave little away.
“I hope that he can come through a full training session today,” he said. “If that’s the case, then he will definitely play tomorrow.”
Reporting by Mark Elkington, editing by Tom Pilcher