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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Euro challenge for Celtic
Michael Ballack is one of Bayern Munich's star players
Former European champions Bayern Munich will start as Group A favourites as Celtic aim to become the first Scottish side to qualify from the group stages.

Although Celtic defeated Stuttgart on their way to last season's Uefa Cup final, the Scottish club have only won one of seven meetings with German sides down the years.

While they have a 2-2 record against French clubs, Celtic's last meeting with Group A opponents Olympique Lyonnais saw the Scots knocked out of the Uefa Cup in 1999.

Celtic striker Henrik Larsson will want to exorcise some personal demons when they play in Lyon in the final game of the group on 10 December.

The former Swedish international suffered a double fracture of the leg in that defeat to the French side and was ruled out for seven months.

Celtic have happier memories of facing Belgian sides in European competition, although Anderlecht will present a tougher hurdle than Gent and Ekeren did in days gone by.

The meeting with Bayern will have special resonance for midfielder Paul Lambert, the Celtic captain having won a European Cup winner's medal under the direction of coach Ottmar Hitzfeld while they were both at Borussia Dortmund.

Anderlecht returned to the Champions League after a year's absence following a 3-1 aggregate defeat of Polish side Wisla Krakow.

They are perhaps not be the force they once were as they claimed 26 domestic titles, having lagged eight points behind Brugge last season.

But coach Hugo Broos has started rebuilding, with veterans Filip De Wilde and Bertrand Crasson leaving and Gilles De Bilde also looking for a new club.

Former Belgian player of the year Pär Zetterberg has been brought in from Olympiakos and another Swedish midfielder, Christian Wilhelmsson, from Stabæk.

Serbo-Montenegrin striker Nenad Jestrovic scored 20 times last season despite only starting his season in November and could be their trump card this term.

Bayern Munich became one of the summer's highest spenders in a depressed market when they bought striker Roy Makaay from Deportivo La Coruna for more than £12m.

The Dutch international striker has not yet reached full fitness, but his side are already ominously level at the top of the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen and Stuttgart as they attempt to retain their title.

Former European champions Bayern will start Group A as favourites thanks to a star-studded line-up.

Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld could even afford to allow Brazilian striker Giovane Elber to leave for group opponents Lyon during the summer such is the strength of his squad.

Midfielder Sebastian Deisler's fine form has earned him a recall to the Germany squad for the forthcoming Euro 2004 clashes with Iceland and Scotland.

Oliver Kahn, Tobias Rau, Jens Jeremies and playmaker Michael Ballack are also part of Rudi Voller's plans.

Bayern's multi-national team of internationals also includes the likes of France regulars Bixente Lizarazu and Willy Sagnol, Peru striker Claudio Pizarro and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves.

Brazilian striker Giovane Elber has moved to Lyon
French champions Olympique Lyonnais fought off competition from Monaco and Hertha Berlin to sign striker Giovane Elber from Bayern Munich.

The Brazilian's last act for the German side was to score after coming on as a substitute during a victory over Hamburg, which suggests that, at 31, the most successful foreign striker in the history of the Bundesliga is not yet a spent force.

Lyon coach Paul Le Guen had been desperate to strengthen his side's attack ahead of their Champions League campaign, having been forced to find a replacement for Sonny Anderson, who joined Villarreal.

Anderson was one just one of three established forwards sold during the summer, with Frédéric Née and Tony Vairelles also leaving the Stade Gerland.

French international Sidney Govou had missed the opening weeks of the season with a knee injury, which left Peguy Luyindula as the club's only recognised striker.

The lack of firepower has left Lyon languishing in sixth place, having lost on the opening day to surprise early leaders Lille then drawing 0-0 at home to Toulouse.

Man Utd face Rangers
28 Aug 03  |  Champions League
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28 Aug 03  |  Champions League
Sutton eases Celtic through
27 Aug 03  |  Champions League

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