The good fortune which has traditionally accompanied Bayern in draws for major competitions deserted the Bavarians on Thursday night, when FCB were grouped with Villarreal, Manchester City and Napoli in this season’s Champions League. “I'd have been more pleased with some other teams," stated director of sport Christian Nerlinger. “It could certainly have been easier," agreed keeper Manuel Neuer. However, Nerlinger finished on a defiant note: “We are Bayern Munich. We want to get through the group stage, and we will!"
Reaction to the Champions League draw:
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: “It's an extremely interesting group. We're in with clubs from the Spanish, English and Italian leagues, so the group features teams from the strongest leagues in Europe. It's the highest quality, but Bayern's target is to reach the last sixteen."
Christian Nerlinger: “It's a very demanding group, but Bayern Munich are still favourites to win it. I'd have been more pleased with some other teams, and especially if you compare it with last season's group, there's a massive difference. But we'll go for it and we're looking forward to the Champions League. The team is fired up, and that will shape our approach. We are Bayern Munich. We want to get through the group stage, and we will!"
Jupp Heynckes: “This is the strongest group of all. I know Villarreal and Napoli very well, they're both top teams. And what can you say about Manchester City? They've invested unbelievably heavily and they're throwing everything at the effort to succeed in Europe. Yes, we're in the most difficult group in the Champions League. Every single match will push us to the limit, and we'll have to focus totally on every game. Every match will be exceptionally important."
Philipp Lahm: “This group is madness. You have Europe's strongest leagues going head-to-head, so every match will be a footballing gem for the fans. But I'm looking forward to it, this is the real Champions League. If we keep our concentration, show our quality, and with the support of our fans, we'll hit our target of the last sixteen. I'm confident."
Bastian Schweinsteiger: “This is what the Champions League is all about. We're definitely in the hardest of all eight groups, but we're not bothered. I'm looking forward to some fantastic games at the Allianz Arena, and I'm sure Jupp Heynckes will prepare us well for everything. If we want to be known as one of the top teams in Europe, we have to crack this group. And I'm certain we'll crack it!"
Arjen Robben: “It's a difficult but interesting group, with very strong opponents. We face six matches at a very high level, in which we’re also capable of rising above ourselves. But if we maintain our concentration, I'm certain we'll go through."
Franck Ribéry: “Wow, that's tough! We'll have to give it everything in all six matches if we want to reach our goal. Manchester City are looking for success regardless of the cost. Villarreal and Napoli are both very, very strong teams. We'll need top performances to get through against these teams."
Manuel Neuer: “This group will be anything but easy, there are no weak teams at all. Manchester City is a really tough draw, Napoli had a super season last year, and Spanish teams always play good football and are always dangerous. It could certainly have been easier, but if you’re aiming as high as we are, you have to get through a group like this."