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Oct 22, 2012

Franck Ribery in form for Bayern

LILLE, France -- Winger Franck Ribery will look to punish the club where he was formed as a youth player when Bayern Munich travels to struggling Lille on Tuesday.

Ribery, who was on Lille's books from 1995-99 before being released, has been in fine form recently, creating three goals in Bayern's 5-0 win away to Fortuna Duesseldorf on Saturday, and setting up Olivier Giroud's equalizer for France against Spain last week.

"I know my family and a lot of friends will be there," said Ribery, who grew up close to Lille in Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Saturday's win made Bayern the first side to start a Bundesliga campaign with eight wins, but the Champions League runner-up is under pressure in Europe after its surprise 3-1 loss away to Bate Borisov three weeks ago.

"We were surprised to lose to BATE Borisov. Because of that we've got a bit of pressure on our shoulders in the Champions League. So we have a clear objective: win the match in France and the return match in Munich. That will put us on the way to qualifying."

The Belarus side has six points and will take a major step toward qualifying from Group F if it beats Valencia at home.

Bayern's loss in Belarus was Bayern's only blip in a remarkable season where it has won 11 out of 12 matches in all competitions. Bayern sits proudly top of the Bundesliga, five points clear of Eintracht Frankfurt.

Lille, by contrast, has won only three out 13 in all competitions and is languishing down in 11th spot in the French league. It has lost both matches in the Champions League so far and faces another first-round exit, just like last season.

"With the departure of Eden Hazard (to Chelsea), the club has lost its best player of the last few years," Ribery said. "Lille lost the first two matches and they will give everything to beat us in front of their fans, so as to keep their chances of qualifying alive."

Despite Lille's problems, Bayern Munich center half Dante, who played for the French club between 2003-05, is wary that Lille's stuttering attack will finally click.

"They're still dangerous going forward with top players like (Marvin) Martin (Nolan) Roux and also (Salomon) Kalou, who won the Champions League with Chelsea," the Brazilian defender said.

Lille is sweating on the fitness of center half Marko Basa, who scored an injury-time equalizer in the 1-1 draw away to Bordeaux on Friday. Basa broke his nose scoring the goal and had an operation on Saturday morning. He remains highly doubtful for the game, while Lille coach Rudi Garcia is already without defender Idrissa Gueye (ankle) and midfielder Rio Mavuba (knee). Right back Mathieu Debuchy is suspended.

Bayern is without Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who has been laboring for almost a month with muscle problems. Striker Mario Gomez and center back Daniel van Buyten are also out injured.

But even the absence of Robben and the prolific Gomez will hardly weaken a Bayern side full of attacking menace.

Meanwhile, BATE has had longer to prepare than Valencia, having played its last league game on Thursday -- winning 2-1 away at Slavia Mozyr to maintain its seven-point lead at the top -- while the Spaniards played at home against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Valencia, which is ninth in La Liga, has been in patchy form this season and needed two late goals to get the better of Bilbao in a 3-2 win.

Nelson Valdez, whose 90th-minute header sealed the comeback on Saturday, said that the win would strengthen his team against BATE.

"The team wanted to win so much by the end that for us it will be a boost of energy we needed to have more confidence and calm so we can play the important game against BATE in the Champions League," Valdez said. "This game is very important for us because if BATE beats us then they will be practically through to the next round and we don't want that."

Valencia has yet to win away this season after losing its Champions League opener at Bayern and having one draw and three losses on the road in the league.

Coach Mauricio Pellegrino hopes to have midfielder Ever Banega and left back Jeremy Mathieu back from injury.

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