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Below-par Reds grateful for the points

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Below-par Reds grateful for the points

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Dec 10, 2006 9:00 pm


Felix Magath hardly gave off the aura of a happy man as he took his place at the news conference following Bayern's 2-1 home victory over Cottbus on Saturday. The Reds boss looked preoccupied as he stirred his traditional post-match cup of peppermint tea, drinking down a decent sized gulp before admitting: "I can't talk up today's victory, and I'm not even going to try. We're just relieved we've made it to the end with all three points."

Bayern's last home game of the calendar year was symptomatic of a malaise afflicting the champions at the Allianz Arena in the first half of this season. "Yet again, we've struggled against a defensive side here on our home turf, and lacked creativity," the Bayern boss conceded. Promoted Cottbus even beat their illustrious opponents in the statistics, delivering 13 shots to Bayern's 10, with three corners to the home side's one.

<b>Lack of spark</b>

Another 69,000 full house turned up in the hope of a gala Christmas party, but they watched in vain as the double winners again failed to spark. The reaction to the news that leaders Bremen had rattled up half a dozen goals in Frankfurt seemed to contain a hint of jealousy mixed with admiration.

"We'd like to be scoring a little more often too, but we simply can't at the moment, so we have to be satisfied with narrow victories," Magath grimaced. On Saturday, Bastian Schweinsteiger opened the scoring three minutes from half-time with an eminently fortunate long-range effort, before Daniel van Buyten headed his first goal in a red shirt to seal the points after 54 minutes. Steffen Baumgart had levelled for lively Cottbus just a minute earlier, and Oliver Kahn had to be at his best to preserve the victory shortly before the end.

<b>Below potential</b>

Bayern have scored just 15 goals in nine Bundesliga fixtures at the Allianz Arena, only netting more than twice in the 4-2 triumph against Berlin. "We've not played to our potential at home most of the time," Magath accepted, blaming tiredness for the dearth of goals. "We're just not fresh enough at the moment. We can't unpick a packed defence." Not for the first time, the head coach reminded the media of a problematic pre-season period and the club's large World Cup contingent.

"We always knew it wouldn't be easy. Our goal was to be there or thereabouts come the winter break," Willy Sagnol remarked. With just next weekend's trip to Mainz remaining in the first half of the league programme, the champions lie a mere three points off top spot. A win against the bottom club, and another away to Alemannia Aachen in the Cup on 20 December, would guarantee smiles on faces at the Bayern Christmas party.

<b>Hanging on in there</b>

Bremen's three-point lead is complemented by a 17-goal advantage over the Reds, so the unofficial title of winter champions is effectively out of reach. "It would have been nice, but it's not the end of the world. We'll still enjoy Christmas, and let's see who's on top at the end of the season," Sebastian Deisler commented.

The Bayern camp has already mentally turned to the second half of the campaign. "We'll train hard in the New Year, and then you'll see a better Bayern," Van Buyten insisted. A cup of tea later, and the coach had recovered his good humour too: "I'm optimistic. It'll be better after Christmas."
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