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Deflated Reds put title ambitions on hold

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Deflated Reds put title ambitions on hold

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:45 pm


Bayern general manager Uli Hoeneß left the Allianz Arena without uttering a word after the final whistle in Munich's first home fixture of 2007. A few minutes earlier, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had disappeared into the warren-like corridors of the stadium, a look of consternation written across his features. "I need time to get over this game," the Munich chairman remarked, unwilling to offer any further comment. "I need to sleep on the whole thing."

The pair, who make up two-thirds of the Bayern board of directors, had just witnessed a goalless draw against 15th-placed strugglers Bochum, and another serious dent in the Bavarians' hopes of defending the Bundesliga crown. "There's no point talking about titles at the moment. We need to try and win two or three matches, and then we can talk about it again," Hasan Salihamidzic offered.

<b>Gap could widen to eight points</b>

Mark van Bommel was of a similar opinion. "We've put the championship out of our minds, but we won't completely lose sight of it," the Dutch midfielder remarked, aware that the gap to the Bundesliga's leading pair could widen to eight points by Wednesday evening. "We never thought we'd only take a single point from two matches," Van Bommel continued, surveying the champions' dispiriting false start to the second half of the campaign.

The 64,000 at the Allianz Arena saw the home side make a lively enough opening on Tuesday. The side sent out by Felix Magath appeared committed to wiping the slate clean after last Friday's much-criticised 3-2 defeat in Dortmund, but for all the Reds' determination and graft, a string of promising chances went begging.

<b>Shorn of confidence</b>

Van Bommel was guilty of missing the best of the lot on 34 minutes with only Bochum keeper Jaroslav Drobny to beat and with time to pick his spot. "No excuses, that has to go in, and then we'd have won 3-0," the midfielder lamented. Instead, Bayern yet again dropped points against a team struggling in the lower reaches of the league.

The Bavarians enjoyed the bulk of the possession, won more tackles and delivered 23 shots on goal to the visitors' eight, but the statistics mask the home side's increasing lack of inspiration as they ran out of ideas against Bochum's deep-lying defence. Neither second-half sub Lukas Podolski and Roque Santa Cruz was able to make a decisive impression. "Failing to take clear-cut chances is all about a lack of confidence," Magath mused afterwards.

<b>Must-win derby in Nuremberg</b>

The coach, perhaps prophetically, appeared to redefine his target for the season. "We can't talk about the title any more. We're too far behind. We need to concentrate on finishing second or third," he declared. Captain Oliver Kahn felt the situation was less dramatic: "I still believe we can win the league, even if it doesn't look too promising right now. But Bayern can always bounce back and win seven or eight games in a row."

Ideally, the men in Red would begin a winning streak this Friday against state rivals Nuremberg. "Whatever it takes, we have to come away with all three points," van Bommel observed, "even if we play with nine men or the boss picks himself." The Netherlands enforcer can little have suspected that Friday's line-up will in fact be picked by a new man at the helm.
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