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Bayern soothe nerves with group spot

sports Updated: Aug 24, 2011 23:31 IST
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Bayern Munich breathed a collective sigh of relief after booking a Champions League group stage spot with a 3-0 aggregate win over FC Zurich, taking the first step to what they hope will end with an appearance in the competition's final in Munich next year.

Bayern made sure of their place in Europe's premier club competition with a 1-0 win in Zurich on Tuesday following their 2-0 first leg win at home last week.

"A huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders because this is where Bayern belongs," said Bayern sports director Christian Nerlinger.

The record German champions only narrowly clinched third spot in the league last season, leaving them having to play off for a group spot and some jittery nerves as they are desperate for a good run in the competition with the final to be held on home turf next year.

"We have been feeling the pressure on the club and players in the past few weeks but we have now taken that crucial first step," Nerlinger told reporters.

Netherlands on top
Netherlands went top of the FIFA world rankings for the first time on Wednesday without playing a match in the last month. Although their friendly against England was cancelled because of the London riots, Netherlands benefitted as previous leaders Spain were beaten by Italy to lose their place at the top.

Pique out with injury
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique tore a calf muscle in training and will be off for three weeks, missing the European Super Cup match with FC Porto in Monaco this week, the club said.

The 24-year-old injured his left calf muscle and would be out of the Super Cup clash Friday for sure.

Socrates in ICU
Sao Paulo:
Brazil great Socrates is recovering in intensive care after suffering a stomach haemorrhage, a spokesman for the Albert Einstein Hospital revealed. The former player appeared in an interview and declared: "I am doing great. The first two days were crazy, but I'm making great progress and undergoing physiotherapy."