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Champions move within range of the top

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Champions move within range of the top

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:30 pm

Deep in the bowels of the Allianz Arena, shortly after Bayern's 1-0 victory over Karlsruhe on Saturday, Bayern chief scout Michael Henke warmly greeted his counterparts from Barcelona and handed them DVDs of the game. Whether there was much to learn is another matter: two-and-a-half weeks ahead of their first Champions League meeting with the men from Munich, the Catalan 'spies' hardly saw anything to make them quake with fear.

"There's nothing much to say: we played badly but won," was captain Mark van Bommel's concise analysis. After three convincing displays and a rain of goals in beating Lisbon 7-1, Hannover 5-1 and Bochum 3-0, FCB had to be content with the slimmest margin of victory at the weekend. "At this stage of the season, these are the games you have to win. There are three points at stake, we've taken them, and that's all that matters," Van Bommel concluded.

Uli Hoeneß, happy enough at a 14th league success of term and undeterred by isolated jeering from the terraces, agreed with the skipper. "We didn't play well, but we thoroughly deserved the points. These are the games you have to win if you want the title," the general manager pointed out. Leaders Hertha BSC Berlin "have won their last ten games exactly like that. They've been praised for it too, so we have no reason to apologise."

However, Hoeneß expressed "lots of sympathy" for the disgruntled sections of the 69,000 crowd at the Allianz Arena, who derived very little warmth from the home team's performance on a bitterly cold day in Munich. "The fans want us to blow away the bottom club by five goals. But once you realise the goals aren't coming, you need to knuckle down and protect the lead to the end," Hoeneß continued. "You don't get anywhere in the table with a terrific display and an entertaining 1-1 draw."

Sosa's maiden strike

In fact, the first half-hour suggested FCB would carry on where they left off recently. Fit-again Franck Ribéry led the charge as Bayern created a clutch of early openings, only to miss the lot. José Ernesto Sosa finally latched onto Ribéry's superb 34th-minute lay-off to net his first goal for the club, a strike which turned out to be the match-winner.

The home side faded dramatically after the restart. "Especially in the second half, it didn't go the way we wanted it to. We were too hurried, KSC fought back and made chances," agreed coach Jürgen Klinsmann. The absence of first-choice strike pair Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose made itself increasingly felt. "We had very little to aim at up front, so it was far from easy," Hoeneß said.

Hassling and harrying

"The second half was close to a catastrophe," Michael Rensing reflected, as the champions ended up clinging on for dear life. Zé Roberto hacked off the line in stoppage time to preserve a vital victory, which sees Bayern move to within a point of top spot. "We've collected three more points and Hertha lost, so it's a perfect matchday for us," even the visibly dismayed Rensing conceded.

"We're delighted we're up there and have moved within range. We won't leave anyone in peace now. We'll apply the pressure on whoever we have to," said Klinsmann. Following the two-week international break, the next fixture sees FCB travel to VfL Wolfsburg, the side level with the champions in second on points and goals. "It's another final," remarked Klinsmann. "It'll have a huge bearing on the title race," agreed Hoeneß. In all likelihood, the visitors from Barcelona will witness a very different Bayern Munich on the day.
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