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Champions League win provides timely boost

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Champions League win provides timely boost

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Nov 26, 2009 6:45 pm

The crowd hailed the team, the board were smiling, and Louis van Gaal finally had something to celebrate as the preferred version of normality returned to Bayern on Wednesday night. Munich's victory over Maccabi Haifa and Juventus's defeat in Bordeaux means FCB can still make the Champions League knockout stages, prompting genuine feelings of relief from all concerned.

"We needed a boost, and winning has given us just that. We've earned ourselves another chance in the Champions League," said Uli Hoeneß after Munich's first home win in the competition this term. It was also FCB's first competitive victory in over a month. "It's a positive development again at last. I'd say there's a huge sense of relief," acknowledged youngster Thomas Müller. "There was a totally different atmosphere in training and in the dressing room today, you felt it immediately. There was laughter again," revealed match-winner Ivica Olic on Thursday.

"We've regained control of our fate, and that feels good," remarked Bastian Schweinsteiger. Instead of an ignominious early exit, Bayern can now progress to the last sixteen by winning in Turin on 8 December, the sixth and final Champions League group matchday. "I think we have a fifty-fifty chance," said Van Gaal, calling to mind the home meeting with Juve: "We played them off the park in the first half."

In that game, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben caused the Italians no end of trouble before half-time. Both have been sidelined for weeks, but Hoeneß voiced hopes of comebacks for the pair very soon. Robben is set for squad duty in Sunday's Bundesliga trip to Hannover and Ribéry is back out jogging round the practice ground. "It's the best news of all," said Hoeneß.

Without the tricky wingers, Bayern have tended to look a little uninspired at times, and it was the case again for long periods against Maccabi. The decisive moment of inspiration actually came from an exterior source, as the video screens brought news of Bordeaux's 55th-minute opener against Juve. The 58,000 crowd went mad, and a bolt of electricity seemed to course through the Allianz Arena. "We saw that, and knew it was no longer out of our hands," reported keeper Jörg Butt. Olic netted the winner seven minutes later.

"In a situation like ours, easy things can become difficult. But we did well today, we worked hard and we were patient," said Mario Gomez, who crowned a good display with the shot which ultimately led to Olic' goal. "It was vital we won today. We've done it without playing well," observed captain Mark van Bommel: "We're satisfied, but nothing more than that."

Nerlinger detects progress

"I think there's still a certain lack of confidence. We making mistakes, in our build-up play, in our attacking moves. That has to stop. But overall, it was a lot better," said Philipp Lahm, "it was a workmanlike victory based on good teamwork." Director of sport Christian Nerlinger agreed with the full-back: "It was an OK performance, and definitely an improvement. We were getting forward more," he said, "I hope that frees the players mentally." Certainly, as the game wore on, there were encouraging signs of much greater confidence from the previously hesitant FCB stars.

The acid test as to whether that can be maintained comes on Sunday when Bayern visit Hannover 96. Gladbach, Bochum and Hertha Berlin are the remaining domestic opponents before the mid-season break. "We've put a poor run behind us. I hope we can go on and win all our matches before Christmas," declared Olic. Lahm ended on an upbeat note: "We're not out of it yet. We have to continue working hard, and the wins will follow."
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