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Bayern on song ahead of Hoffenheim clash

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Bayern on song ahead of Hoffenheim clash

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Nov 30, 2008 8:45 pm

Bring on leaders Hoffenheim! Bayern showed the quality of champions on Saturday in beating title rivals Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 away from home, swapping places with the Rhineland outfit to go second in the standings for the first time since Matchday 4. The new state of affairs prompted fighting talk from Uli Hoeneß ahead of Friday's top-of-the-table showdown with the team in first place. "Not for the first time, we've brought Leverkusen back down to earth. But now we've got the really big game. We're in good shape," the general manager declared, firing the first verbal salvo immediately after the match at the BayArena.

Hoffenheim, whose sensational run to the top of the table as a promoted club has drawn a chorus of wonder and praise, visit the Allianz Arena in just five days' time. "We're respectful but not afraid. After all, we're Bayern Munich," said Bastian Schweinsteiger. Hoeneß can hardly wait for kick-off: "Now we want to beat Hoffenheim. I'm sure it'll be a cracking match, and it'll tell us who has the best team at the moment."testThe question as to the better team in Leverkusen had a simple answer. "Leverkusen were very strong in the first 20 minutes and we had a few problems. We controlled the play in the second half, and the goals were just a matter of time," FCB coach Jürgen Klinsmann analysed. His Leverkusen counterpart broadly agreed. "We lost the battle of wits after 25 minutes. Bayern deserved their victory," Bruno Labbadia acknowledged after Bayer's eighth consecutive defeat to the champions.

The men from Munich deserved the three points for a close-to-flawless defensive display, and moments of individual attacking class. "I was a trifle fortunate today," Luca Toni admitted after netting his solitary chance of the afternoon to hand his side the lead on the hour. Strike partner Miroslav Klose marked his 250th Bundesliga appearance with a killer second on 82 minutes. Apart from the impressive Philipp Lahm and Zé Roberto, the increasingly influential Franck Ribéry was a key contributor in the build-up to both goals.

"Ribèry is back to his best. If you have a player like him, there'll always be surprise moments and your opponents will never be allowed to settle. Obviously, it's a massive trump card," commented Klinsmann. But Ribéry, a late starter this season due to summer injury problems, is not the only FCB star nearing peak form. The win in Leverkusen means Bayern are unbeaten in 13 matches, and have taken 23 of a possible 27 points in the Bundesliga of late.test"The lads are enjoying themselves and they're fit, because we've worked really hard for four months. It's taken us a while to get up to speed, but the team's enjoying the fruits of their labours now. They're great value to watch," Klinsmann enthused. Left-back Lahm confirmed that the coach's ideas had begun to take firm root in the dressing room. "The coach questioned pretty much everything we were doing at the start - which is good for our development - and now we're getting answers, in terms of our system, players and philosophy," the Germany international said. "The team has a core now, and the consequence is that we're playing successful football."

"We're in good shape, we're scoring goals, and we've taken three more points. We're improving with every game, and that feels good," summarised Schweinsteiger. Added keeper Michael Rensing, growing in stature with every passing week: "I do think today's performance harked back to the good old days. We're starting to roll and improving all the time." The league leaders are next to face the challenge of the new, old Bayern. Bring on Hoffenheim!
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