By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE (Reuters) – Buoyant Bayern Munich are looking forward to visiting former nemesis Red Star Belgrade in a bid to secure top spot in Champions League Group B, coach Hansi Flick said on Monday.
The German giants top the group with a maximum 12 points from four games, five more than Tottenham Hotspur, meaning they will secure the top spot with a match to spare if they beat Red Star at their Rajko Mitic stadium on Tuesday.
Third-placed Red Star, who beat Bayern 4-3 on aggregate in the 1991 European Cup semi-final en route to winning the continent’s elite club competition, are third with three points while bottom team Olympiakos have one.
“We know the atmosphere in this stadium is special and we are all looking forward to the challenge of beating Red Star tomorrow,” said Flick, who took over as interim manager from Croatian Niko Kovac on Nov 3.
“They are a good home side who have beaten many top teams here and we know they will be a different prospect after losing the reverse fixture 3-0.”
Flick has enjoyed a perfect start at the helm with three straight wins as Bayern scored 10 goals and conceded none after the club’s former midfielder replaced Kovac.
The 54-year old acknowledged he was enjoying his time in charge as he hit the ground running in adverse circumstances.
“Many players were out of form when I took over and I quickly had to decide what the starting line-up is,” he said.
“It is important that players always want to learn and improve all the time, this is Bayern’s DNA and that’s what makes working with this group and the staff enjoyable.”
Flick, who left Bayern for Cologne a year before Red Star’s epic win against the Bavarian side when they scored a stoppage time winner to reach the 1991 European Cup final, conceded that was a bitter blow for the club.
“Everyone in Germany saw it as a great achievement for Red Star but it was a long time ago and my memories of it have somewhat faded,” he said.
Red Star coach Vladan Milojevic, who oversaw last season’s 2-0 group stage home win over eventual winners Liverpool, played down hopes of another upset.
“This is not a theatre where you’re unopposed on the big stage,” he said.
“We’re up against a European giant here but we’ll do everything we can to give them a good game of football.
“Bayern look much sharper since the new coach took over, they are more aggressive than they were under Kovac. They have reverted to type and are clearly enjoying it.”
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)