Bayern currently top Group F, but they are level on nine points with the Spanish side. By avoiding defeat, Jupp Heynckes' men can ensure that winning the group remains in their hands going into the final game. The pressure is certainly on the Bavarian giants to seal their passage to the last 16. It is also on one player in particular, as he returns to his homeland for the first time.
already has a growing reputation at club and international level. A member of the Spain side that triumphed at UEFA Euro 2012, he became Bayern’s record purchase when he joined the four-time European champions the summer. Now with 15 first team appearances under his belt, the spotlight will very much be on him when Bayern line up at the home of Los Che.
A tough-tackling and combative midfielder, Martinez will need no extra motivation against Valencia. For his previous club Athletic Club Bilbao, he featured against them twelve times, scoring once and winning on four occasions. It is a record that the 24-year-old is keen to improve upon. “I hope that the next win comes on Tuesday,” he said confidently, but also went on to warn: "Valencia are very strong side with a lot of young players, and the crowd really get behind their team.”
Top spot key
With the group stages winding to a close, the right result at this stage is crucial for clubs harbouring ambitions of lifting the trophy in London next May, a category into which Bayern, last year’s finalists, certainly fall. Finishing top of the group will theoretically guarantee the Bavarians a more favourable draw in the first knockout round, since they can avoid other possible big-name group toppers such as FC Barcelona, Manchester United FC and German rivals Borussia Dortmund.
With the final game at home to FC BATE Borisov to come, the remit against Valencia is, at the very least, to avoid defeat and retain first place. The job could be done sooner, of course, if Bayern can win in Valencia and if Borisov fail to beat LOSC Lille in the other group match. The focus remains very much on this encounter, though. “We want to win the group, so we have to take at least a point”, said chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “We need to go about our business completely focused”, added the 57-year-old.
Gomez back in the frame
Heynckes should have something approaching his strongest eleven for this game, after making several changes to the starting line-up against Nuremberg. French international Franck Ribery is back in contention after missing the weekend clash with a bruised rib, while Mario Gomez has also made the Matchday squad for the first time this season.
The German international striker, who scored twelve goals in the competition last season, has been pushed slightly into the background by the fantastic form of Mario Mandzukic, but will be itching to get back amongst the goals after more than three months on the sidelines. With Claudio Pizarro having netted a hat-trick on Matchday 4 against Lille, Bayern are incredibly well-served in attack.
Valencia: Diego Alves - Pereira, Rami, R. Costa, Cissokho - Tino Costa, Parejo - Feghouli, Jonas, Guardado - Soldado
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Müller, Kroos, Ribery - Mandzukic