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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 11, 2008

Bayern favourites with Klinsmann at the helm

BERLIN, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich should have little difficulty securing a 22nd Bundesliga title this season with Juergen Klinsmann in charge.

Though expectations for Bayern are always high, they have reached new levels since the former striker who coached Germany to the 2006 World Cup semi-finals was handed the job.

Klinsmann has tried to warn against inflated expectations in the short term at Bayern, who also won the German Cup last season and reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.

He said it may take time for things to settle at the club, who after a record 81-million euro spree before the 2007-08 season have so far stayed out of the transfer market.

'We aren't yet able to say how far we are because all the players have come to training camp at different times,' the 44-year-old told reporters, referring to the staggered return of a squad full of internationals after Euro 2008.

'It'll naturally take a while until everyone's reached the same level,' said Klinsmann. 'Our preparations will continue till late August or even September. We've got a lot of work to do.'

But Klinsmann also made it clear from his first news conference in Munich last month that he expects Bayern to dominate their league opponents, defend their domestic double and reach the Champions League final.

'We want to dominate play and we want to score a lot of goals,' Klinsmann said. 'We want to win both German titles, the Bundesliga and the German Cup. And we want to be in the Champions League all the way to the end.'

Crowd favourites France playmaker Franck Ribery and Italy striker Luca Toni are both nursing injuries and Euro 2008 frustrations. The two moved to Munich a year ago and made an instant impact, helping turn Bayern into a scoring machine.

Bayern ran away with the league, losing only two of their 34 matches and clinching a 21st title four rounds before the end.

Toni also finished as the Bundesliga's top scorer with 24 goals, helping Bayern win a domestic double for the third time in four seasons.

Among Klinsmann's challenges will be to extract as much from young German internationals Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger as he was able to do while coaching Germany.

Bayern's title defence starts on Aug. 15 against Hamburg SV.

Werder Bremen, Schalke 04 and Hamburg SV will also look to be in the title chase after finishing last season in that order.

Werder playmaker Diego and Schalke's Rafinha will miss the start of the season as they are both in Brazil's Olympic squad at the Beijing Games.

VfL Wolfsburg, fifth last season, are also likely to be in the thick of things. Coach and sporting director Felix Magath has splashed out to bring in Italian defenders Andrea Barzagli and Cristian Zaccardo from Palermo.

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