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FCB encouraged by return to quality football

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FCB encouraged by return to quality football

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:46 pm

The big freeze in Germany continues, but Bayern metaphorically thawed out in Stuttgart on Wednesday evening with a dynamic, flexible, effective and defensively flawless display in handing the home side a 2-0 DFB Cup quarter-final defeat. "Our balance between defence and attack was superb," commented Jupp Heynckes, as FCB showed their true character for the first time since the mid-season break.

In the one-sided clash at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena, there were strong echoes of Munich's 13-game unbeaten run last autumn. Manuel Neuer had only one shot to save, an effort by Germany international Cacau in the second half. Otherwise, centre-backs Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng marshalled a rock-solid backline. "We stopped anything developing around our goal," remarked Thomas Müller.

At the other end of the park, the visitors created a number of presentable chances, taking two of them. On the half-hour, Franck Ribéry finished off a sweet passing move between Rafinha and Müller, "and they combined superbly," observed Christian Nerlinger. Immediately after half-time, Mario Gomez made it two and effectively settled the outcome. "I never had the feeling we wouldn't make it into the semi-finals," said Heynckes.

"Our priority now should be keeping clean sheets in our forthcoming matches," continued Nerlinger, "we always pose a threat in attack." Heynckes made a couple of important changes to his line-up on Wednesday evening with the specific intention of a better balance between attack and defence, and the revised tactics paid off.

Beneficial changes

Toni Kroos took up a much more forward position as playmaker, with Luiz Gustavo alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger in defensive midfield. "Given the players we have, it's better when we have a more defensive guy like Gustavo or Tymo settling things down in front of the back four. That worked really well," Heynckes summarised afterwards.

"Gustavo was outstanding," the coach continued, as was David Alaba, who came on for the injured Schweinsteiger after 17 minutes. "He was confident and dynamic," said Heynckes, "overall, I saw the flowing team game with surprise moments which I was looking for."

Gomez on target in Stuttgart again

"I liked that a lot. We kept the pace high, we controlled the game line, and by and large we played very good football," continued the 66-year-old. That sentiment was echoed by his stars: "Our movement was good, we played plenty of rapid one-twos, and we had lots of possession," remarked Ribéry, comfortably the most creative influence on the field along with Kroos. "We were very flexible, and that's how we want it," the midfielder ventured

Gomez, now up to eight goals against Stuttgart since switching from his boyhood club to Bayern, felt it was a convincing team performance. "That's what we need in our next few matches," said the Germany striker, "it's not yet perfect, but it was the first step.".

The luck of the draw

The man to lose out from Heynckes' tactical alterations was Arjen Robben, who did not feature at all in Stuttgart. "I made significant changes in midfield. After our patchy start to the second half of the season, I could have dropped any of my attacking players. It wasn't aimed at him personally, because we'd have played well with Arjen in the team," the coach explained. Müller was directly involved in both goals as Robben's stand-in on the right flank.

Given Bayern's packed programme over the next five or so weeks, with commitments in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Cup, Robben will soon be resuming an important role. For now, the focus switches to the league and a must-win home meeting with struggling Kaiserslautern on Saturday.

Provided FCB claim the three points, the stars will look forward to the cup semi-final draw later on in the evening. The potential opponents are top-flight giants Dortmund and Gladbach, and Bavarian underdogs Greuther Fürth. "Home to Fürth certainly wouldn't be the worst draw of them all," Nerlinger commented.
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