Bayern Munich kick off Champions League title defense | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 17.09.2013
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Bayern Munich kick off Champions League title defense

Bayern Munich have begun their Champions League title defense, hosting Russian opponents CSKA Moscow. Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen face an uphill battle away to English giants Manchester United.

After harshly criticizing his team's (still-victorious) performance over the weekend, Bayern's Sporting Director Matthias Sammer laid out his club's firm Champions League intentions ahead of Tuesday's match.

"We don't enter into a competition in order to be participants," he told kicker magazine. "We want to achieve the most possible, therefore, if possible, defend the title."

Coach Pep Guardiola left midfielder and vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger out of the starting lineup for what he has called the "best competition of the season."

Anything less than three points would be considered a failure for Bayern. But the always-diplomatic Guardiola was quick to point out that CSKA Moscow, a team that is undefeated this season, will be a big challenge.

"CSKA are a very strong side at this stage of the year," he said. "They have lots of good players who are quite physically strong."

Tough task in Manchester

Coach Sami Hyppia made a return to England where Bayern Leverkusen were playing Manchester United. The Finn spent a decade as a player for United's fiercest rival, Liverpool.

"I'm happy to be back in England and looking forward to tomorrow's game," he said ahead of the match. "I played my final 90 minutes as a Liverpool player here and we won 4-1."

Leverkusen headed into the match in third place in the Bundesliga, while United have had a somewhat slower start to the season, having already suffered a loss to Liverpool and a draw at home to Chelsea.

Hyppia acknowledged that United's new manager David Moyes was the one under more pressure.

"We can go into the game relaxed - we need to enjoy it," he said. "We must respect our opponents, but not too much. I will rally the troops in order for them to play with no fear."

DW's live coverage

Both matches kick off at 20:45 German time (18:45 UTC). You can follow our live coverage on DW's sports Twitter account @dw_sports. Check back after the match for a full match report.