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Confidence-boosting start in Braunschweig

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Confidence-boosting start in Braunschweig

Postby FCBayernNews » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:40 pm

For the second time in less than half an hour, Thomas Müller was fouled. For the second time, the foul took place in the box, and for the second time, ref Felix Zwayer pointed to the spot. Mario Gomez, named lead penalty taker by coach Jupp Heynckes just a few days ago, was expected to step up, just as he had done for the opening goal. But the striker declined to take the kick, handing the honour instead to birthday boy Bastian Schweinsteiger. "It was Mario's present to me," the midfielder revealed after Bayern's convincing 3-0 DFB Cup first round victory away to Eintracht Braunschweig on Monday evening.

The Munich camp was both delighted and just a shade relieved at the successful start to the season. "Mario seems a nice guy. I must remember to thank him," Schweinsteiger grinned after opening his account for the new term. The Germany pair converted their spot-kicks on nine and 39 minutes, before Müller earned his personal reward for a man-of-the-match display by rounding off the scoring with seven minutes to play.

In his post-match analysis, Heynckes ascribed the win to his team's "excellent passing and positioning." The match stats bore him out: FCB completed an extraordinary 94.1 percent of their passes, a higher success rate than in any other match last season. "We made full use of the space and our zonal game was excellent today," the seasoned boss explained.

Bayern's flowing attacking football was based on a textbook display of defending as a team. Germany keeper Manuel Neuer spent his competitive debut for the men in red as a virtual spectator, completing the 90 minutes without making a save. "We were very solid today. I think we'll strike up a very good partnership," Neuer commented. The newly-formed back four consisted of Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber at centre-half, with Rafinha and captain Philipp Lahm at full-back.

Heynckes was particularly impressed with summer signing Boateng. "He still has ground to make up in training, but his positioning was outstanding. He's a major plus for us," the coach observed. "I'm absolutely convinced he'll give us a much more solid defence." Fellow newcomer Rafinha combined well with Müller down the right flank. "Rafinha chose his moments well when he got forward," Heynckes enthused.

With Müller and Rafinha in command of the right side of the field, and Lahm harmonising well with David Alaba on the left, Bayern barely noticed the absence of injured wing duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry, much to the boss's approval: "I liked it! We need a functioning team." The 66-year-old is determined to spread responsibility across many shoulders. "Soon enough, we need to be in a position to compensate fully for the times when key players are missing."

Optimistic for the future

Heynckes is now more confident than ever about Sunday evening's opening Bundesliga fixture at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach. "The players understand what I want," the coach said. "It's not yet exactly the way I want it, but what do you expect at this early stage in the season? We'll soon have it all under control." The main ingredient in the recipe for success will, as always, be hard work. The only presents will be the ones distributed by the players amongst themselves.
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