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FCB fired up for first competitive fixture

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FCB fired up for first competitive fixture

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:00 pm

Milan and Barcelona have gone home, so bring on Braunschweig: following a four-week pre-season, culminating in two genuinely demanding tests against top European clubs from Italy and Spain at the AUDI Cup 2011, the focus at Bayern is now 100 percent on next Monday's first competitive fixture, when the men from Munich travel to face second division Eintracht in the DFB Cup first round.

In the Audi Cup final against the Champions League holders, Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes took the opportunity to draw a few last conclusions from the "extensive and intensive" training programme of the last four weeks. The day after defeating AC Milan 5-3 on penalties, Heynckes rested practically all his first-choice players with an eye on the Braunschweig clash.

"I didn't want the players contesting 180 minutes in two days before playing in the cup next Monday," Heynckes explained, following Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Barcelona. With both Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben sidelined with minor injuries, the FCB boss ran the rule over potential stand-ins, and was also keen to avoid any further injury worries.

"I picked my team with very clear intentions: I wanted all the players to appear at some point across the two days. And it was also important to me to draw some conclusions as to how we could play next Monday, given we'll probably have to replace Ribéry and Robben," Heynckes remarked, after making nine changes to the starting line-up. "Braunschweig is the match that matters, because we have to get off to a good start," agreed striker Mario Gomez.

"Barcelona are in a class of their own, but we defended extremely well for long spells and all but prevented them creating chances," Heynckes summarised, although the Spanish champions were also way below full strength: quite apart from World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, the lengthy absentee list included playmaker Xavi, and regular defenders Puyol, Abidal, Alves and Mascherano.

But Barcelona boast one of the longest benches in world football, and other less famous players stepped up to the breach, most notably 20-year-old Thiago, who scored on 42 and 75 minutes to seal a deserved victory for the Catalan side. "We had relatively little of the possession, but we still created one or two clear-cut chances, and you have to take your chances against Barcelona. If you do, it can all end differently," Heynckes reflected.

Big step forward

It all meant this season's final dress rehearsal did not quite go according to plan, but the 66-year-old coach insisted he was "very confident" ahead of the new campaign, although he admitted "we still have a lot of work to do. We need to fine tune our organisation, and we need to start doing things automatically, the things which are still slightly confused at the moment."

Captain Philipp Lahm fundamentally agreed with his boss. "We're physically fit, but we can still do better tactically. We're not yet where we want to be, but I do believe we've taken a big step forward compared to last week." Vice captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is equally upbeat: "We have to keep it tight at the back, but if we do so, we'll be a very good team, and we won't lose many matches."
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