Bayern buoyant ahead of Juventus decider

BERLIN - Bayern Munich are confident they can beat Juventus in their final Champions League Group A match in December to secure a knockout stage spot after being thrown a lifeline.

The Germans, who were on the brink of elimination, were granted a stay of execution on Wednesday when they beat Maccabi Haifa 1-0 while Juventus lost 2-0 to already-qualified Girondins Bordeaux.

The Italians are on eight points with Bayern on seven ahead of the Dec. 8 clash at the Stadio Olimpico between two sides that have won Europe's top club competition six times between them.

"I think the chances are now 50-50," Bayern coach Louis van Gaal said after their win against Haifa.

"We were superior to Juventus in the first half when we played them at home. I think that we will have our chances there and we can score that winning goal quickly."

The Dutchman, under pressure following a series of bad results in the Bundesliga and Europe, said the team was now finally on a good path.

The creative Arjen Robben is expected to return from a leg injury for the Juventus tie and playmaker Franck Ribery (knee) may also recover in time, leaving the Bavarians, who have scored just once at home in the competition, a stronger side.

Bayern are also a disappointing seventh in the league, six points off pace-setting Bayer Leverkusen, with club directors calling for a winning streak at least until the winter break.

Bayern manager Uli Hoeness, who is stepping down after 30 years in the job to take over the club presidency from Franz Beckenbauer on Friday, spoke confidently ahead of the Juventus clash.

"Now we have a final in Turin. We have to play to win because it really makes no sense to play for a draw there," Hoeness said.

"That could be fatal. I think it is better if the team plays to win from the start. So we will only have one direction and that will be going towards Juventus' goal. Full power," he said.