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Combative Van Bommel asserts his authority

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Combative Van Bommel asserts his authority

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:15 pm


Football matches are normally made memorable by spectacular goals, pinpoint passing or stunning saves. Ronaldinho's stupendously well thought-out free-kick to hand his side the lead against Werder Bremen already looks set to be the stuff of legend. "I'll remember that trick when it comes to the dying embers of my career as a striker in the local league," Bremen keeper Tim Wiese quipped.

Bayern's meeting with Internazionale also featured a memorable strike, Roy Makaay's clinical finish from Hasan Salihamidzic' glorious pass probably rating as the Reds' best goal so far this season. However, many who watched the match may find themselves recalling a number of incidents involving Makaay's fellow-countryman Mark van Bommel.

<b>Head-to-head with Vieira</b>

Van Bommel pushed the laws of the game to the limit in a titanic locking of horns with Inter midfield strategist Patrick Vieira, no shrinking violet himself, in a shuddering clash of personalities which provided many highlights on an evening with little goalmouth action. Van Bommel dug deep and stamped his authority on the match, precisely the attributes which prompted Bayern to sign the Dutchman from Barcelona in the summer.

"Mark is good news for us. He's totally professional, and adds steel and graft to our game," general manager Uli Hoeneß said admiringly. Coach Felix Magath was equally pleased with the 29-year-old: "You need players like him on the European stage, uncompromising in the tackle and refusing to be intimidated. Mark was exemplary today, although there was a point where it might have gone too far." Spanish match official Cantalejo quietly suggested to Van Bommel, already booked in the first half, that it would be better for him to be substituted.

<b>Immediate impression</b>

"I never go in deliberately looking to foul anyone," Mark told <i>SportBild</i> magazine, "but if I see that my team is in trouble, I'll lay down a marker. If it comes off, you can turn a game round." Those words might have been spoken by Stefan Effenberg, the dominant personality in his time at Bayern and the role model for any player keen to "lay down a marker". That part appears to have passed to van Bommel.

"I've seldom known a player assume such a leading role in our hierarchy in so short a time," Hoeneß enthused, an opinion confirmed by Magath: "Mark is very highly regarded. Few players have exercised so much influence here in such a short time. He's the kind of player who always has the whole team on his mind."

<b>Suspended on Saturday</b>

That influence extends to the team's activities away from the field of play, where Mark is demonstrably keen to boost team spirit. Together with Makaay, he organised a trip for the entire dressing room last week, prompting Magath to alter the scheduled training times. "From my point-of-view, Marks active role in the dressing room is optimal," the coach remarked. Magath frequently confers with his new midfielder during training. "He's the kind of player you orientate yourself upon," Philipp Lahm commented recently.

Lahm and his team-mates will have to do without their new on-field general against Energie Cottbus at the weekend, as van Bommel is the first Bayern player to sit out a suspension this term. "Five bookings in this space of time is a little too much," Magath commented with a wry grin. "We'll definitely miss him."
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