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Analysis: 'We're heading in the right direction'

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Analysis: 'We're heading in the right direction'

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:15 pm


Uli Hoeneß was in a predictably good mood after Bayern's biggest-ever victory in the opening match of a Champions League campaign. The general manager positively beamed with delight as he spoke to reporters following his side's crushing win against Spartak Moscow. "It ended 4-0, and when it ends 4-0, I have nothing to say," he grinned.

Some 10 minutes later, the forest of media microphones proved too great a temptation and Hoeneß found something to say after all, exploring the reasons behind the dramatic contrast between Bayern's performance before and after the interval. "Football is all about rhythm, and clearly we don't have that yet," he explained after a first half in which the home side enjoyed 61 percent of the possession, but failed to create "a single chance worthy of note," as boss Felix Magath acknowledged.

<b>Magath the risk-taker</b>

"We were very poor in the first half," Mark van Bommel agreed. The coach also put the disjointed display down to the team not yet functioning as a unit. The recent break for internationals saw half the squad absent from Munich, leaving no real time to bed in newcomer van Bommel.

Furthermore, Magath fielded the strike pairing of Lukas Podolski and Claudio Pizarro for the first time, with a third striker, Roque Santa Cruz, in the hole behind the front two. "We'd never played with that formation before," Magath reminded the post-match news conference. "It was something of a risk, but I wanted to make the point that we had to attack."

<b>Scintillating second half</b>

Dogged visitors Spartak also mounted disciplined resistance before the break. "Moscow were very aggressive, full of running and extremely defensive," Magath pointed out, although the visitors could easily have taken a half-time lead from one of their lightning-quick counter-attacks.

If the Reds were a trifle fortunate to go in at the break on level terms, the game was transformed beyond recognition by Claudio Pizarro's opener just three minutes into the second half. "The first goal was a massive relief and restored our belief," Magath commented. Santa Cruz (51), Bastian Schweinsteiger (71) and sub Hasan Salihamidzic (84) scored the remaining goals, "and we were worth the margin of victory too," Magath remarked.

<b>Work to do</b>

The coach was especially pleased with "the manner in which we kept up the pressure until we got to 4-0. That was fantastic. We showed our real footballing potential." Hoeneß was equally enthusiastic: "We put together three or four fantastic moves."

However, Magath sounded a note of warning. "We're a long way from everything taking care of itself," he observed, "at 4-0 up we became a little careless, and it looked as if we wanted to gift our visitors a consolation goal. Fortunately, Oliver Kahn didn't agree."

<b>Smiles all round</b>

Nevertheless, the Bayern camp was generally positive after the successful start to this year's European adventure. "The match showed we're heading in the right direction," Magath declared, "it sets us up nicely for the next few weeks."

The players are under no illusions regarding the need for an improvement over the rest of the Group B programme. "We'll come up against better teams than Spartak," Philipp Lahm acknowledged, although the second half provided abundant grounds for optimism. "That's the way you have to start in the Champions League, and that's how it has to continue," Salihamidzic reasoned.
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