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Champions League remains the target

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Champions League remains the target

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun May 23, 2010 5:30 pm

At the tail-end of the season, Bayern again showed the unity and collective spirit which has so characterised recent months. The entire playing and coaching staff assembled in front of the 20,000-strong Munich fan block to say thank-you for a season of loyal support. The faithful responded with a long and generous standing ovation. A few minutes later, the scene was replayed all over again.

In between, captain Mark van Bommel and Co made the difficult trip up and down the steps to the VIP stand at the Bernabeu stadium, where UEFA President Michel Platini handed them not the famous trophy, but their runners-up medals. A resigned grin or two aside, the emotion etched on the players' faces was desperate disappointment.

Bayern's treble dream crumbled, but Internazionale Milano's became reality with a deserved victory over the German double winners. The Serie A outfit are only the sixth club to achieve the feat, prompting wild celebration for two-goal man of the match Diego Milito and his delirious team-mates.

"I think Inter Milan deserved to win today. They were more mature, their balance was better, and they took their chances ruthlessly," summarised director of sport Christian Nerlinger. "Inter were that decisive touch more clinical than us," agreed president Uli Hoeneß. "Inter were exceptional," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge observed.

Coach Louis van Gaal said the pattern of the match was "no surprise." His team controlled 67 percent of the possession and won the shot count 21-11. But just as in their impressive knockout round victories over Chelsea and Barcelona, Inter looked rock-solid in defence and lethal on the counter-attack. Milito used the first real chance on 35 minutes to hand his side a half-time lead, and took his second opening 20 minutes from time, just as Bayern were piling on the pressure. The Argentine mercilessly punished defensive lapses on both occasions.

"They were ruthless with their chances. We couldn't put them under pressure like we wanted to," said Hoeneß: "You'll only beat them if everything goes right, and it didn't tonight." And indeed, this happened to be the very night when Bayern dipped below their scintillating form of recent weeks.

"Against a team like Inter, and with our attacking orientation, you have to be on peak form. We weren't today," agreed Van Gaal. He and everyone else involved saw Thomas Müller's missed chance straight after the restart as a turning point. "Thomas is normally ruthless in front of goal. This time he wasn't, but Milito was. These are the small things which settle matches."

Still a great season

And who knows what might have happened had Franck Ribéry, who inked a contract extension until 2015 before kick-off, not been suspended. "Naturally, you need creative players against a defensive team, and Franck is a creative player," Van Gaal observed.

The weighty Champions League trophy will now not spend the next 12 months at the Säbener Strasse, although space could certainly have been created between the championship shield and the DFB Cup. Bayern can still look back on a magnificent season, in which their thrilling brand of attacking football has won the club a host of new friends and admirers.

Home advantage in 2012 final?

"As I said beforehand, it was a terrific season, and we won't let that be ruined just because we've lost in a final," said Hoeneß: "There's no reason for our heads to go down." Van Gaal repeated his absolutely justified pride in the team.

Things did not quite work out on 22 May 2010, but Bayern are keen to rectify that as soon as possible. "We're on the right track," said Philipp Lahm, "it's the goal of this football club and every player here to be contending for the Champions League every season." The final of the world's greatest club competition takes place at the Allianz Arena in Munich in 2012. "There's plenty for the younger players to dream about," concluded Hoeneß.
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