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FCB target repeat of long winning streak

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FCB target repeat of long winning streak

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:50 pm

There was much blinking in disbelief among the Allianz Arena crowd after 66 minutes of Saturday's match, as the fourth official displayed a substitution board indicating that Luiz Gustavo would replace Manuel Neuer. The confusion only lasted a few seconds, as it became clear the fourth official had simply entered the wrong number. Neuer stayed in goal, and Thomas Müller made way for Gustavo, much to the fans' relief.

As it happened, the Brazilian midfielder could indeed have played out the last 25 minutes of the match as a makeshift keeper. Bayern's reshuffled rearguard with Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng at centre-back stood firm. Visitors Wolfsburg loosed off a couple of hopeful efforts, but had no further shots on target. The home side did much better with their chances and ended up deservedly winning 2-0 courtesy of goals from Mario Gomez (60) and Arjen Robben (90+2).

"That was very, very important for our confidence," said boss Jupp Heynckes after his side's first victory in the second half of the season. The restart 3-1 defeat away to Mönchengladbach had taken its toll on Bayern's self-belief, as the 90 minutes against the Wolves frequently showed. "We were a little short of composure," the head coach stated, "but it was very important we kept a clean sheet."

However, Heynckes expressed approval of his team's much improved determination, as the men in red won 54 percent of their tackles, and also showed commendable discipline, although the head coach lamented a squandered opportunity by Gomez after 19 minutes. "If we'd taken an early lead, it would have been a very comfortable afternoon, but in the event it was a bit laboured at times." Captain Philipp Lahm took a similar view: "Obviously, we're capable of better football than that, but it'll take a little time before we're back in our normal rhythm."

Fate remains in Bayern's hands

"It wasn't a sparkling display," Christian Nerlinger agreed, although the Wolves' negative approach hardly contributed to the entertainment. But it was a crucial result, because FCB's eighth home win of the season means they stay top of the Bundesliga on goal difference from Dortmund and Schalke: Bayern are four goals ahead of BVB and 12 clear of the Royal Blues. "When you're right at the top, you only look at yourselves. It's all in our own hands," said Lahm.

To ensure things stay that way, Bayern are now hoping to set off on a streak similar to that at the start of the campaign, when they lost their opening match, narrowly won the second game, and then went 13 matches without defeat. "There really is a great similarity," said Nerlinger. Toni Kroos agreed, but issued a warning against complacency: "I hope we can repeat our run, but we'll still have to improve a lot."

Pressure and stress

Franck Ribéry was a lively presence against Wolfsburg on his return from suspension, winning the free-kick from which Gomez scored the vital opener. "I'm back, which is important for me and the team," the Frenchman commented. Ribéry reckoned FCB's patchy showing at times against Felix Magath's side was due to outside influences: "It's been a long week with lots of pressure and lots of stress."

Once again, Kroos voiced similar sentiments. "Two defeats in a row aren't permissible here, so it was never going to be a festival of football," the midfielder pointed out. Thomas Müller reckoned the media had gone much too far in recent days: "The tone of the reporting made you think we were stranded somewhere in mid-table."

That of course is not the case. Munich travel to Hamburg next weekend looking to maintain top spot with another victory. Heynckes will be without Rafinha, who collected a fifth yellow card of the season on Saturday. Daniel van Buyten and Diego Contento are also still sidelined, so the boss will have to reshuffle his defence again. He declined to reveal his hand on that topic, but one thing is clear: Neuer will not be at full-back.
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