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FCB jump first hurdle and move swiftly on

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FCB jump first hurdle and move swiftly on

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:29 am

05.10.2007

Just half an hour after Bayern booked their spot in the UEFA Cup group stage with an ultimately routine victory over Os Belenenses, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was looking ahead to the next challenge. “It’ll definitely be a lot harder against Nuremberg on Sunday,” the chairman declared after the meeting with the Portuguese Cup runners-up in the Lisbon suburb of Belem.

With the score still only 1-0 in Bayern’s favour on aggregate, Thursday’s match was a tight affair for the first hour until Luca Toni’s well-taken opener pretty much put the outcome beyond doubt. “It was clear we’d go through after that,” commented Ottmar Hitzfeld, acknowledging that the Italian’s strike came as a “relief“ to the Bavarian travelling party: “It certainly took the pressure off.“

<b>Reds lack first-half resolve</b>

Bayern arrived in Lisbon to defend the narrowest of leads from the first leg knowing that an exit from the competition against the mid-table Portuguese side, hardly one of the great names on the continental stage, would have been highly damaging in both sporting and financial terms. “We’ve won 2-0, so we’ve done our job. We know very well there are things we could have done better,” Rummenigge conceded in his speech to the post-match banquet at the Four Seasons Ritz hotel.

Hitzfeld will doubtless replay the first half of the second leg match to his players as an example of what not to do in certain situations. “We were short on resolve and gave away possession too often. We didn’t create a single clear-cut opening, and I wasn’t satisfied with that,” Hitzfeld complained. “It was a very difficult match in the first half,” general manager Uli Hoeneß agreed.

<b>Solid defence</b>

Rummenigge spoke for all concerned in blaming the “strange atmosphere“ at the Estadio do Restelo for Munich’s failure to click. Just 7,000 paid to watch the game, leaving the ground less than half full. “It was very dangerous. You arrive at the stadium with the impression it’s just a friendly. You’re not wound up at all. You can easily lose the plot, because you just don’t take it seriously,” Hoeneß mused. Rummenigge explicitly compared the feel of the Restelo stadium to Lippstadt, the small town of his birth, and co-incidentally the name of the Lufthansa aircraft which flew Bayern to Portugal on Wednesday.

“We ran out here with the feeling it was a warm-up game somewhere on the Algarve. It’s not easy to get fired up for something like that,” Hitzfeld concurred. Nevertheless, the Munich rearguard played with commendable focus and determination throughout, only allowing Belenenses a shot or two at goal once the game was in the bag at 2-0. “We had little trouble at the back. Zé Roberto was superb in defensive midfield, as were Lucio and Demichelis at centre-half. The spine of the team stood the test,” the Bayern coach remarked.

<b>Draw on Tuesday</b>

In the absence of injured top scorer Miroslav Klose, Hitzfeld was again reliant on Luca Toni’s instinctive goalscoring quality: the Italian scored the opener in both legs of the tie. Hamit Altintop made sure of victory from Toni’s assist 13 minutes from time. “You need your midfielders to score goals in Europe, because the strikers are always closely marked,” the Turkey international reflected after taking his total for the season to four.

Altintop and his team-mates now look forward to next Tuesday’s group stage draw in Nyon, Switzerland. “It’s actually an easier task than the first round, as three teams go through from a group of five. I can’t imagine we won’t have a chance of finishing third across four games. And I also don’t believe we’ll play another away match in front of a less than capacity crowd,” Hoeneß predicted. In common with the entire Bayern party, the official had already consigned the meeting with Os Belenenses to the history books.
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