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Bitter defeat prompts sense of deja-vu

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Bitter defeat prompts sense of deja-vu

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:50 pm

18.03.2007

A betting man would have put his shirt on Mark van Bommel scoring as he powered his way into the Frankfurt box in the 77th minute of Saturday's clash at the Commerzbank Arena, but the aforementioned wager would have ended in dismay as the Dutch ace battered his shot into the side-netting.

The home side recovered possession and began their next attack just as the stadium video screens announced that leaders Schalke had taken a 1-0 lead at home to VfB Stuttgart. The 51,500 in Frankfurt hardly had time to digest this news, before the stadium erupted to hail Christoph Preuss' goal of the season contender, a strike which ultimately proved enough to seal the points for relegation-threatened Eintracht.

<b>Good day for Schalke</b>

Not much more than a minute separated Van Bommel's miss, Schalke's goal and Preuss' glorious effort, but in all likelihood, the champions' hopes of defending their Bundesliga title evaporated in that fateful 60 seconds. "That's certainly how I see it. It's over," head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld acknowledged afterwards, regretting the afternoon's "setback" and "bitter defeat" in the banking metropolis.

"It's been a crucial matchday which has gone Schalke's way. We've dropped five points in the last two weeks, and we'd be well advised to concentrate on more modest ambitions," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge observed. "Schalke are nine points clear now," Hitzfeld pointed out, "so as I've said all along, our priority is qualifying for the Champions League. We have to make sure of that before speaking about anything else."

<b>Recurring nightmare</b>

In truth, Bayern looked anything but champions in waiting on Saturday. Just six days after arguably their best display of the season in a 1-1 draw with Bremen, Hitzfeld's men looked uninspired and even perplexed against Frankfurt. "We dominated possession, but we never found a way to unpick their packed defence. We failed to play penetrating balls to our strikers," Hitzfeld lamented.

The statistics - 19 shots to Frankfurt's nine, 55 percent tackles won and 60 percent possession - accurately reflected Bayern's dominance, but Eintracht held firm. "Our first concern was to keep a clean sheet," home boss Friedhelm Funkel remarked, and the defensive tactics adopted by Frankfurt and a host of Bayern's previous opponents this term yet again proved the champions' undoing. Saturday's defeat belongs in a file with defeats by a single goal in Wolfsburg, Bielefeld and Aachen, where the Reds saw the lion's share of the ball but created very few chances, before missing the opportunities which did come their way.

<b>Definitely a penalty</b>

"We've come nowhere near our potential today. You have to score the opener against a defensive team, because it always goes more smoothly after that," Philipp Lahm sighed. Indeed, the match might have followed a very different course had Bayern been awarded a penalty for Sotiros Kyrgiakos' blatant foul on Van Bommel after 14 minutes.

"Obviously, you sometimes don't get a penalty in that situation. But it's unbelievable I was booked. The Frankfurt player and his coach admitted it was a penalty," Van Bommel ruefully reflected. However, neither the midfielder nor his boss sought to blame referee Michael Weiner. "We didn't play well enough to win," the General concluded.
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