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Bayern Munich confident of comeback vs. Basel
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MUNICH (AP) After putting seven goals past Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich is confident it can overcome a one-goal deficit to FC Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The Swiss champion holds a slim advantage going into the second leg of their round of 16 tie thanks to substitute Valentin Stocker's 86th-minute winner at St. Jakob Park.
But Bayern thrashed Hoffenheim 7-1 on Saturday in its 900th Bundesliga win to lift sagging morale after a difficult start to the year that had yielded only three wins from six league games.
"This will give us a push for Tuesday. We know we have to make good a one-goal deficit," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. "We're capable of scoring goals."
After boasting of "textbook goals," "sublime football" and "a frenzy," however, Heynckes warned that "Basel won't make it as easy for us as Hoffenheim did."
Basel ousted Manchester United in the biggest upset of the group stage, but progression is seen as mandatory for three-time winner Bayern with the Champions League final to be played In Munich on May 19.
"We have to get past Basel," said Bayern president Uli Hoeness, warning that failure would make it "difficult for us to make amends for this season."
Bayern's problems have come away from home this season but its record at home is impressive, with 16 wins from 18 games in all competitions.
The Bavarians' home record in the Champions League is no less formidable, with 11 wins from its last 12 appearances in Munich in the competition, with four straight victories this season.
However, Basel is unbeaten away from home in the Champions League this season, and on the road in all competitions since August, when it picked up its last defeat in the Swiss League.
The Swiss champion won 2-0 at Grasshoppers Zurich on Saturday, with goals from future Bayern player Xherdan Shaqiri and Philipp Degen, to extend its lead in the standings to 12 points.
Basel's South Korean left-back Park Joo Ho missed the league match to rest a calf injury.
Basel forward Alex Frei said the team is looking for a third miracle following its wins over Manchester United and Bayern at home in its last two Champions League matches.
"If we should qualify ... it would be even bigger. It would be extraordinary," Frei said. "For a Swiss club to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Champions League is already not normal, but to eliminate Bayern to get there this is really unusual."
Frei has previously faced Bayern at the Allianz Arena when playing for Borussia Dortmund, and suggested that the opening 20 minutes will be key.
"The Bayern players are going to press like crazy and try to score as quickly as possible to get the fans on their side," he said. "If that's the case, and we can put them in danger on the counterattack - indeed, score the first goal - we will have taken the first step toward a famous result."
Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos said the players "know we have to win" but "we won't start out coming forward like crazy and playing haphazard football."
Mario Gomez, who scored his fourth hat trick of the season in Bayern's rout of Hoffenheim to bring his season tally to a league-leading 21 goals, also proposed a more measured approach.
"We didn't give Hoffenheim any air to breathe. It will have to be the same against Basel," said Gomez, who should shake off minor shin and hip injuries to play.
The 26-year-old's 11th Bundesliga hat trick puts him one behind former Schalke striker Klaus Fischer, though he still has some way to go to catch former Bayern Munich striker Gerd Mueller who managed the feat 32 times.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who scored twice on Saturday, and Bayern defender Jerome Boateng should also shake off minor knocks to play.
"We have to keep playing this way. It can't be that we play differently again on Tuesday," Robben said after Saturday's win.
Bayern was given a further boost in that game when Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger came on as a substitute to make his return from a month out with an ankle injury.
"I'm ready," the 27-year-old proclaimed with an eye on Tuesday's season-defining game.
Bayern winger Thomas Mueller is also itching to play.
"We have to cancel out their lead, but I'm confident," Mueller said. "If we play like we did (on Saturday), without a care in the world, with so much passion, with plenty of bite in the tackle and utter determination up front, we can do it."
Basel coach Heiko Vogel will be familiar with several Bayern players, having coached Mueller, Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber, Toni Kroos and Diego Contento during his time as Bayern's youth coach from 1998 to 2007.
"It's obligatory for Bayern to progress against us," Vogel told Monday's edition of German daily Bild. "It's not a battle of equals. It's a David vs. Goliath duel, and the Goliath should really progress. But we're still waiting to see how it looks after the game on Tuesday."
Updated March 12, 2012