FC Bayern’s first opponents in the 2010-11 Champions League

FC Bayern boast one of the most successful teams in the Champions League of the European Football Association, UEFA. When the Bavarians play their group matches against AS Rome, FC Basle and CFR Cluj during the current 2010-11 season, they will be competing for the 14th time since 1994 at Europe’s highest level. The German record-winning champions had enjoyed being a top club during earlier decades in the European Champions Cup. They won Europe’s most important club competition, which was re-named Champions League by UEFA in 1991, three times between 1974 and 1976. The group matches, which will start with the encounter against Swiss champions Basle on September 28, again promise a special atmosphere, top performances and great excitement.

ContiSoccerWorld presents FC Bayern’s opponents:

FC Basle: The FC Bayern of Switzerland

FC Basle (first leg in Basle on September 28 / second leg in Munich on December 8): Basle made the group stage by achieving four victories during the qualification against Hungarian champions VCS Debrecen and Moldova’s title holders Sheriff Tiraspol. The Swiss and FC Bayern have something in common, as for both the club abbreviation is FCB. The club’s Internet site can be accessed at http://www.fcb.ch. The club colours are dark red-blue, very similar to those of FC Barcelona. Basle boast 13 national Swiss titles, plus 10 Cup titles. FCB play at St. Jakobs Park, Switzerland’s largest stadium with a crowd capacity of around 40,000. The up-to-date arena, where the German national team defeated Portugal in the quarter-finals and Turkey in the semis at the 2008 UEFA European Championship, is called “Joggeli”. There are also shops, restaurants, bars, offices, flats and even an old age home. The club, founded in 1893, has a long tradition and has remained dominant.

 

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FC Basle, based in the country’s third-largest city (170,000 citizens) and situated on the river Rhine bordering France and Germany, is considered a rich club. A woman calls the tune, with President Gisela (“Gigi”) Oeri leading the club very successfully.

Ottmar Hitzfeld, the former Bayern coach and current Swiss national coach, played with Basle as a professional. A former Bayern player, Thorsten Fink, is now coaching the Swiss champions. Basle’s squad includes Marco Streller, Alexander Frei and Benjamin Huggel, three top Swiss internationals who played in the German Bundesliga for a long time. VfB Stuttgart’s present coach Christian Gross worked for many years for FCB, which constantly lets successful players go abroad. Mladen Petric (Hamburg), Ivan Rakitic (Schalke) and Eren Derdiyok (Leverkusen) are just three examples of professionals hailing from the Basle foray of talents.

 

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Thorsten Fink, now coach of FC Basle, scored a goal for Bayern Munich in a 2003 match against 1860 Munich. Paulo Sergio (centre) and Claudio Pizarro celebrate with him. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

AS Rome: The Yellow-Reds with superstar Totti

AS Rome (first leg in Munich on September 15 / second leg in Rome on November 11): the full translation of this Bayern opponent is “Sporting Association Rome”. The club Associazione Sportiva Roma, short AS Roma, is also called “Giallorossi”, the “Yellow-Reds”, by their fans in the Italian capital, and is an extremely important distinguishing feature from the Skyblue-Whites of local rivals Lazio Rome. The “Roma”, as well-informed German football fans call the club founded in 1927, have qualified directly for the group stage as national runners-up. The team coached by legendary Claudio Ranieri, 58, and Inter Milan made the title race one of the most thrilling for many years this spring. The club has achieved three Italian national titles – 1942, 1983 and 2001 – and has won nine Cup titles, most recently in 2007 and 2008.

The team’s outstanding superstar is Francesco Totti, the 2006 World Cup champion. The 33-year-old has been playing with AS Rome since 1989, in almost 450 league matches and has scored approximately 200 goals. He has played more than 550 competitive matches since 1993. The genuine Roman is the fans’ favourite and the identifying figure head of AS Rome. He holds practically all club records for a player. Danile de Rossi, another 2006 World Cup champion, is the key player in defensive midfield. Brazilian Juan, who previously played with Bayer Leverkusen, is the key defender. Brazilian Adriano was contracted from Inter Milan to strengthen the attack prior to the current season.

 

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The club, one of three Italian clubs quoted on the stock exchange, is deep in debt and allegedly up for sale. The revenue from their ninth participation in the Champions League could help fill the tills. AS Rome play their home matches in the Olympic Stadium with a crowd capacity of about 73,000. A former German international who has very close connections with “Roma” is Rudi Voeller, who played 142 matches in the Serie A in the yellow-red shirt between 1987 and 1992, scored 44 goals and was hugely popular with the fans. Voeller met his wife Sabrina in Rome. He was the team’s head coach in the late summer of 2004, but resigned voluntarily after four weeks. In addition to Voeller, Thomas Berthold and Thomas Haessler, another two German 1990 World Cup champions, also played with Rome.


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German 1990 World Cup champions Rudi Voeller and Thomas Haessler in the shirts of AS Rome in May 1991. (Photo: Rauchensteiner/Augenklick)

CFR Cluj: The Railroaders from Transylvania

CFR Cluj (first leg in Munich on October 19 / second leg in Cluj on November 3). The clubs from Bucharest, Steaua and Dinamo, along with Rapid, have dominated Romanian club football for many years. Only Universitatea Craoiva occasionally managed to break this monopoly. The clubs from the Romanian capital achieved some very good results in the European Cup competitions. CFR Cluj (pronounced Cloush) first attracted international attention in 2008. As the national champions, the club qualified directly for the group stage of the Champions League in which they defeated AS Rome 2-1 away and held Chelsea FC to a goalless draw. This year the club, founded in 1907, regained the national title and celebrated a hattrick in the Cup competition.

The club colours are Bordeaux-red and white. The stadium, with a crowd capacity of 23,000, has been extended and modernised especially for the Champions League, and is named after Dr. Constantin Radulescu, a former Romanian national coach. Romania’s fourth-largest city, with around 310,000 inhabitants, lies in the Transylvanian Region and is called “Klausenburg” in German. Transylvania was a region populated by Saxons and later Swabians in the early Middle Ages. The city’s complete name in Romanian is Cluj-Napoca. The abbreviation of the club’s name CFR leads back to Căile Ferate Române, the state-owned railway of Romania. The Railroader team is a multi-cultural, international mixture with a strong Brazilian-Portuguese influence. The defenders Hugo Alcantara, Edimar and Leo Veloso, as well as striker Ferdinando Sforzini, are Brazilians. Goalkeeper Nuno Claro, captain and defender Cadu and midfielder Dani are Portuguese. On the day of the draw for the group stage, one of the strong Romanian professionals, Ciprian Deac, was sold for three million Euros to German club FC Schalke 04.

The draw resulted in a well-remembered encounter: On September 16, 2008, CFR Cluj defeated AS Rome 2-1 away. Rome’s striker Vucinic (centre) is tackled by Dani and Cadu. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)