Bordeaux hosts Bayern in Champions League

Losing two consecutive games in the French league is hardly the best preparation for Bordeaux as it prepares for its Champions League match with Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

The defending French champions lost 1-0 at Auxerre over the weekend following a 3-1 loss at Saint-Etienne, slipping to third place in the standings before hosting Bayern, which will travel to France without Netherlands winger Arjen Robben, who has failed to recover in time following surgery on his right knee.

But Bordeaux’s poor recent form doesn’t seem to bother club president Jean-Louis Triaud.

“This is a good phenomenon to be exploited,” Triaud said about the two losses, which followed a 22-match unbeaten run. “In a season, there are some off-days for all teams, regardless of the reason. I hope it’s done and that we will find a solution to change what went wrong.”

Bordeaux was without playmaker Yoann Gourcuff in the Saint-Etienne loss and the France international came off the bench at Auxerre after recovering from a left thigh injury.

“We have to think about what went wrong to try and erase our mistakes,” Gourcuff said. “We have to improve our defense when we don’t have the ball.”

Gourcuff, who scored four goals and set up two more in eight league games, was a key element in Bordeaux’s run to the title last season and the 23-year-old player is crucial to making his team tick.

“First of all, our team is made up of talented players,” Triaud said. “But there is a player who … is exceptionally talented. To be without a lad with an exceptional talent is always a problem. Gourcuff is a trump card for us.”

Asked about Gourcuff’s fitness, Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc said that the playmaker, who is expected to start against Bayern, “is in very good form.”

Brazilian defender Henrique hasn’t completely recovered from a knee injury and will probably be rested, Blanc added.

Following a 1-1 draw at Juventus and a 1-0 home win over Maccabi Haifa, Bordeaux has four points in Group A and is level with Bayern, which tops the group with a better goal difference. Juventus is third with two points and Maccabi Haifa is bottom with no points. Bordeaux’s only previous encounter against the Germans came in the 1996 UEFA Cup final, which Bayern won 5-1 on aggregate.

“We are going to Bordeaux to defend our lead in the group,” Bayern goalkeeper Joerg Butt said.

Bayern, which has won four of its last six Champions League matches away from home, stands sixth in the Bundesliga after a 2-1 win against Freiburg on Saturday. The German club will be without France winger Franck Ribery, striker Ivica Olic, Breno and Edson Braafheid at Bordeaux, while defender Martin Demichelis, Mark Van Bommel and Luca Toni are available.

“At this stage of the Champions League, we have to prove ourselves and not show any weaknesses. We have to win so that we don’t come under pressure later,” Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said before the team’s departure.

Despite Bayern having won the European Cup four times, Triaud said his team should not be overawed.

“We have to respect our opponents, but without overestimating them. We don’t play against a record of achievements, we play against 11 players,” Triaud said. “Let’s play with our talent and the system that allowed us to be efficient so far.”