MUNICH - Bayern Munich will begin its Champions League campaign against Valencia on Wednesday full of confidence after its best start to a season in 12 years — when it went on to win the European title against the Spanish team.
Bayern's dramatic loss on penalties to Chelsea in the Champions League final May prompted the German powerhouse to embark on a spending spree. It then won its first five competitive matches of the season with a club record 12 goals from its opening three Bundesliga games.
"It was a game that you never forget, it stays with you a lifetime," Bayern defender Holger Badstuber said of the match against Chelsea. "It was a heavy blow but we've coped with it. Every player took his own conclusions from it. It should spur us on and not hamper us. It's a new season now. We have new targets to aim for."
Bayern last won the Champions League in 2001, when Mauricio Pellegrino — now Valencia coach — missed the decisive spot kick in the final to give the Germans their fourth title.
"It was a huge disappointment from a sporting point of view, absolutely," the 40-year-old Pellegrino told Kicker magazine ahead of his European debut as coach. "But it's also a good memory, because I was there for one of Valencia's biggest nights."
French side Lille hosts Belarusian champion BATE Borisov in Group F's other match.
Bayern defeated Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup to end its two-year trophy drought in August, and then enjoyed a 4-0 win over Jahn Regensburg in the German Cup before getting its league campaign off to a perfect start.
"It can go on like that. It should go on like that," Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said.
Bayern's last — and only — loss at home to a Spanish team in the competition came 10 years ago, when Deportivo La Coruna recorded a 3-2 win. The Bavarian team has 13 wins to show from 19 home games with Spanish sides.
Valencia has only won once in 11 games in Germany, five years ago against Schalke.
But no Bayern player is underestimating Valencia, most likely the Germans' chief rival to top the group.
"They're a very good team, not Madrid or Barcelona, but not very far off," said Arjen Robben, who looks to have overcome a troublesome lower back injury to play.
Franck Ribery, who also missed Bayern's 3-1 Bundesliga win over Mainz on Saturday, is also likely to play after overcoming muscular problems.
"They trained well and completed the whole workload. I think they're able to play," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said after Tuesday's training session.
However, Mario Gomez, who last season scored 13 Champions League goals, is still out after undergoing surgery on his left angle. Defenders David Alaba, Rafinha and Diego Contento are also ruled out.
Offseason signing Mario Mandzukic is proving himself an able deputy for Gomez, contributing six goals in the five games while the Germany striker is absent. Peru striker Claudio Pizarro can also step up if needed.
Bastian Schweinsteiger played his second straight full league game on Saturday and seems to have put his injury worries behind him, while record-signing Javi Martinez came on with 15 minutes remaining against Mainz to set up Bayern's third goal.
"I think he could play (against Valencia). He's improving from day to day and has (gained) the acceptance of the other players," Heynckes said.
Pellegrino has bigger injury worries than Heynckes, with defender David Albelda, midfielder Fernando Gago and winger Pablo Piatti all out.
After drawing at Real Madrid in its opening game, Valencia earned a much-needed first victory in the Spanish league on Saturday when it beat promoted Celta Vigo 2-1.
"The team arrives in good form to Wednesday's game in Munich," Pellegrino said. "We have to take the smallest chances up front and stay fully concentrated at the back. Above all, we have to pace ourselves for the whole game."
Lille and BATE Borisov are meeting for the first time and the French side hopes it can improve its defence after a lacklustre start to the league.
Little drew 1-1 at newly promoted Troyes on Saturday after conceding a sloppy equalizer with two minutes remaining in a match it had dominated.
"We've conceded at least one goal per game since the league started," Lille coach Rudi Garcia said. "But in terms of commitment and team spirit I have nothing to reproach the players for. We just need to try and push forward more, we need to be more consistent."
Lille has only one defeat in 12 Champions League home games, which have yielded just three wins.