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Delight at victory for graft and workrate

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Delight at victory for graft and workrate

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:25 pm


On board the team bus to the airport after Sunday’s hard-earned victory in Bielefeld, Ottmar Hitzfeld made a brief but well-received announcement. The head coach cancelled the official training sessions scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, telling Oliver Kahn and Co they were not required back at the Säbener Strasse until Wednesday morning.

Hitzfeld’s spontaneous decision to award his men a two-day rest was prompted by the afternoon’s 1-0 victory over Arminia, a result which restored Bayern to top spot in the Bundesliga ahead of Werder Bremen. “It was important we sent out a message, after losing the lead in the table for the first time this season, albeit only for 24 hours,” a relieved Hitzfeld commented.

<b>Psychological importance</b>

“Bremen got ahead of us, and we needed to fight back,” agreed right-back Christian Lell. Bayern have topped the standings since matchday one with a lead of up to six points at one stage, but conceding first place so close to the winter break would have sparked a predictable barrage of media flak. “Leading the league at Christmas is definitely a psychological bonus,” reflected Hitzfeld, knowing his side can now achieve that target without outside assistance: “We’ve been on top for 15 rounds – and that’s where we want to be after 17 rounds.“

After a disappointing evening in Braga last Thursday, when Kahn bemoaned a lack of “passion, bite and desire,” Sunday’s performance will not go down as Bayern’s most stylish so far this term, but Hitzfeld was nevertheless delighted with his side’s courageous fightback from a sluggish start and increasing domination as the game progressed. “I saw the utter determination of future champions. This team is alive and well,” the Bayern boss declared.

<b>Ribéry provides the solution</b>

The atrocious weather, with incessant rain soaking the pitch and a gusty wind swirling around the stadium, in any case mitigated against champagne football. “Mistakes were unavoidable. We knew we’d have to put in a huge amount of work and not simply focus on playing the ball,” revealed Hitzfeld, whose team initially struggled with the conditions and the lively home side. “We needed 20 minutes to settle and organise ourselves,” the coach acknowledged.

As it was, Munich never looked back after Franck Ribéry’s latest exhibition of sublime skill in front of goal, leading to his fourth strike of term midway through the first half. “I’m delighted,” the 24-year-old commented, “the three points are very important for the team. But it wasn’t easy, Bielefeld were good and tackled hard.“ Ribéry was not the only Bayern man to take additional motivation from the home crowd’s ceaseless and occasionally vulgar taunting.

<b>Top to the end?</b>

“The game calmed down a lot after the opening goal, and we had them under control,” observed Hitzfeld. “If you take away the first 20 minutes, it was a commanding display,” agreed Miroslav Klose. Bayern never seriously looked like losing the lead, although the game remained tense due to the visitors’ failure to add a second on the break. “We gave the ball away much too often,” Hitzfeld lamented.

By contrast, the coach will have been extremely happy with his defenders once the initial uncertainty had evaporated. Oliver Kahn, who became the first-ever player to register 300 Bundesliga victories, and also chalked up 250 wins with Bayern to break Sepp Maier’s club record of 249, was largely a spectator on the day. “I’m satisfied because we kept a clean sheet,” Lucio stand-in Daniel van Buyten remarked, “we belong at the top of the league, and we’ll defend our position right to the end.“
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