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Chorus of praise for 'superb display'

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Chorus of praise for 'superb display'

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:40 pm

Arsenal's Emirates Stadium lies some 20 km to the east of Wembley, the venue for this year's Champions League final. Following Tuesday's 3-1 win on the Gunners' home patch, the Bayern camp briefly reflected on the distances involved in Europe's elite club competition. Victory over Arsenal was "a giant stride" on the way to the next round, but only a small step on the "long road" to the final, as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge observed in his speech at the traditional post-match banquet.

To a buzz of relaxed chatter, and still under the mesmerising spell of an enthralling European footballing night, the players, coaching staff, officials, sponsors and VIP guests gathered in the Grand Ballroom of The Landmark team hotel in Marylebone to hear the FCB chairman reflect on events at the Emirates. "All credit to the team for a focused and top-quality display," said Rummenigge, "especially in the first half, it wasn't only a continuation of the excellence of recent weeks in the Bundesliga, it might even have been a little bit better."

Speaking earlier in the evening in the Mixed Zone at the Gunners' north London home, Uli Hoeneß was in raptures about a "superb display. We played textbook football in the first half. You can't play any better than that." The FCB president praised the players and coaching staff to the heavens: "I've never seen a Bayern team play as well as we did in the first half-hour."

By then, Munich were two goals up courtesy of early strikes from Toni Kroos (7) and Thomas Müller (21), later named UEFA Man of the Match. The half-time lead was fully merited, as Bayern turned in a scintillating first-half performance. Jupp Heynckes rated his team's display before the break as "excellent".

Skill and fighting spirit

The second period, an absorbing contest between two focused and determined sides in which FCB ultimately quelled the Gunners' courageous rally, was "outstanding in terms of our fighting spirit," Heynckes commented. Arsenal did pull one back through former FCB man Lukas Podolski on 55 minutes, the first goal Munich have conceded in 663 minutes of play, but the Bundesliga leaders put the setback behind them and showed the kind of class expected of a genuinely top European team by claiming a third goal, scrambled over the line by Mario Mandzukic with 13 minutes left.

"Arsenal played well, but we're in outstanding form at the moment. We demonstrated that for long spells here in London," remarked Heynckes. The Bayern boss praised his team's ruthlessness and intelligent football, particularly in the way they created and finished off the first and third goals: "One of our hallmarks is that we exploit our opponents' tiniest mistakes."

Caution prior to return

For the second leg at the Allianz Arena in three weeks' time, FCB will be looking to build on their attacking quality and defensive solidity. "Scoring against us is hard, so I think we have a big chance of making the next round," said Heynckes, "but we'll take the return just as seriously as today's game." Arsenal will not simply show up in Munich and surrender, as under-fire coach Arsene Wenger declared: "We'll give it our best shot."

Bastian Schweinsteiger, who misses the second leg after collecting a third yellow card of the competition, issued an appropriate warning: "It's not over yet. We'll have to give it 100 percent in the return." And for all the delight at the superb showing in north London, Rummenigge also sounded a note of caution: "Let's not think too far ahead! This is still the Round of 16! You're punished for every mistake in the Champions League."

Ebullient banquet atmosphere

Fort all that, the 340 guests invited to the late evening dinner at The Landmark celebrated Tuesday's result until well after midnight. The company enjoyed beef bourguignon, grilled seafood and chocolate mousse as Rummenigge recalled former glories: "In 1996, the last time Germany won a major trophy, the party was held here in this hotel. Maybe that's a good omen, because we hope we still have a long way to go in the Champions League this season."
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