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Confidence soaring prior to Arsenal clash

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Confidence soaring prior to Arsenal clash

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:40 pm

Less than 45 minutes after the final whistle at the Volkswagen Arena, the Bayern team bus was on its way to Brunswick airport, from where the playing and coaching staff took off for Munich just after midnight. Earlier in the evening, FCB claimed three more Bundesliga points thanks to another unruffled and efficient display in a 2-0 victory over VfL Wolfsburg.

"These are the games you have to be winning, the ones where it's not so easy. We've demonstrated today that we're in great shape, we have a class team, and we're capable of breaking down any team that resists," commented coach Jupp Heynckes after his side completed a fifth victory in five matches since the winter break, still without conceding a goal. At the end of the match, Bayern had 57 points and were 18 clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund at the top of the league, although Leverkusen had cut that to 16 by the early evening on Saturday, with Dortmund still to play.

The 30,000 crowd on Friday night saw Munich face off against "opponents who were as tough as expected," said Philipp Lahm. The Wolves were aggressive from the start, and destructive too, seeking to stop the visitors playing their football. "It was a difficult away game with a lot of hard tackles," said Bastian Schweinsteiger. As so often in recent matches, it meant Bayern had to be patient for a long spell.

"The team we played today had their best game of the season," said Heynckes. New Wolves boss Dieter Hecking has restored his players' belief, and the men in green certainly held their own in many respects. Bayern did finish with more of the possession (59 percent) as normal, but the home side won the shot count 8-7 and earned three corners to the visitors' two.

"It was a very intense match," analysed FCB board director for sport Matthias Sammer. "We didn't exactly sparkle, but against a hard running and determined Wolfsburg, we held them off very, very well." The crucial first goal duly arrived from a set play, Mario Mandzukic opening the scoring against his former club with a memorable overhead kick after 36 minutes.

"We know we have the quality up front to score a goal at any time," reasoned Schweinsteiger, playing alongside Luiz Gustavo in central midfield in the absence of Javi Martinez, and helping to restrict Hecking's men to just one shot on target, Diego's curled free-kick. FCB otherwise ran down the clock in reasonable comfort, before substitute Arjen Robben wrapped up the 18th victory of the season and the tenth away from home with a stoppage-time second.

"It was a hard job of work," said Schweinsteiger, praising the team's work rate: "I'm very pleased with the way we played today." Neuer, who made an excellent save from Diego's free-kick and thus prevented an unlikely equaliser, was equally satisfied: "We've done well today, we defended well, we let them have very few chances, and we struck ruthlessly twice. We saw it through pretty coolly."

Four days ahead of the Champions League first knockout round first leg tie away to Arsenal, Heynckes expressed satisfaction with "a routine victory," and described his team as "smart and clever." The Reds will be confident when they set off for the English capital on Monday. "We're feeling good about going to London," said Neuer, although Sammer offered a word of warning: "We need to move on quickly from today and recharge our batteries. Tuesday evening will be even more intense."
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