Bayern preps for semi-final clash with worn-out Lyon

Fresh from squeezing past Manchester United in the quarter-final, Bayern Munich are cautiously confident ahead of Wednesday's semi-final, first leg, Champions League clash against Lyon.

Bayern preps for semi-final clash with worn-out Lyon
Photo: DPA

But despite being near full strength and thrashing Hannover 7-0 on Saturday in the Bundesliga, plus Lyon having to travel 750 kilometres by bus because of volcanic ash grounding most European flights, the Germans are still cautious.

“We shouldn’t underestimate Lyon, whatever we do,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “This team saw off Liverpool in the group phase and Real Madrid in the last 16.”

Bayern’s French midfielder Franck Ribery, who coach Louis van Gaal is confident will play despite injury concerns, said his compatriots would be no walk in the park to beat.

“It will be very difficult against Lyon because they have a very good team. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to think about the final,” said Ribery, who has been linked to European giants Real Madrid and Barcelona this season.

Lyon are “very well organised, very aggressive and physically very strong,” van Gaal agreed. “They have players who are quick to counter-attack, all their players are strong dribblers. It’s always hard to play against teams like that.”

Bayern will also be without captain Mark van Bommel and defender Holger Badstuber, whose form this season has taken him to the verge of the Germany team, both suspended after picking up yellow cards.

The Bavarians’ win over Hannover leaves them top of the Bundesliga with three games left, and with the treble of German league, cup and Champions League titles in their sights. They last won the Champions League in 2001.

The two aces in van Gaal’s pack are Arjen Robben, fresh from his hat-trick against Hannover, while striker Ivica Olic also scored two last Saturday.

Both scored at Old Trafford to stun Sir Alex Ferguson’s United in their fateful second leg quarter-final.

Robben, who says he is playing “the best football of my life,” has been dubbed “Bayern’s Messi” by Lyon daily Le Progres, in reference to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who take on Inter Milan in the other Champions League semi.

Bayern’s Argentinean defender Martin Demichelis is also likely to play for Bayern despite injury worries.

Lyon have problems of their own getting to Munich with cancelled flights across Europe due to Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud meaning the French had to endure a bus trip to Bavaria via Zurich.

“It’ll be a total of 10 hours on the bus, which is hard,” said Lyon captain Cris. “But there’s no choice and we have to accept it.”

Lyon drew 2-2 with Girondins Bordeaux on Saturday night in the third meeting between the clubs in the space of three weeks – they met in the Champions League last sixteen. The result effectively knocks both sides out of the Ligue 1 title race.

With five to play, Lyon are nine points off leaders Marseille.

Coach Claude Puel chose to start without top-scorer Lisandro Lopez, who only came on in the second period, but took a knock on the ankle and missed Sunday’s light workout.

Puel said the striker is “doubtful” for the clash in Munich with Lyon bidding to win their first Champions League title.

Centre-half Jean-Alain Boumsong has been out for two weeks with a calf strain, while Jean II Makoun (groin), Mathieu Bodmer (back) and Dejan Lovren (knee) were all absent in Bordeaux.

But midfielder Jeremy Toulalan says Lyon might be good for another surprise.

“Sometimes a team goes all the way even when no one thinks they will. Porto has done it before,” he said. “Maybe it’s our turn now.”

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British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.