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FCB poised to strike from fourth spot

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FCB poised to strike from fourth spot

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:30 pm


Uli Hoeneß was as concise and direct as only he can be following Sunday evening's hard-earned 2-1 home victory over Bayer Leverkusen. "What we have left is five finals," the general manager declared, five matches for the men in red to claim one of the Bundesliga's three Champions League qualifying places. Even after a third victory on the trot, the title holders remain stuck in the fourth place they have occupied since matchday 19, some 10 games ago.

<b>As you were at the top</b>

"We'd been hoping our rivals might slip up at some point, but unfortunately, that's not been the case," Ottmar Hitzfeld reflected. Leaders Schalke won 3-0 in Mainz, Werder Bremen went to Dortmund and won 2-0, and VfB Stuttgart beat Hanover 2-1, meaning Bayern remain six, four and two points respectively adrift of the top three.

"This is one of the most difficult seasons I can remember since I came to Bayern. It's never been a straightforward 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0. We've always let in equalisers, or its gone 2-1. We've always had to battle to the last minute. It's always been incredibly tight," captain Oliver Kahn conceded on Sunday evening. The result was Munich's fifth 2-1 home victory of the season. The champions have only entertained their home crowd to more than two goals on one occasion, a 4-2 defeat of Hertha BSC Berlin.

<b>Through gritted teeth</b>

Hoeneß, Hitzfeld and the vast majority of the 69,000 at the Allianz Arena suffered another torrid closing phase on Sunday. Bayern were in the driving seat after a double Dutch whammy from Mark van Bommel (30) and Roy Makaay (47), but the Rhineland outfit roared back with an Andrey Voronin stunner on the hour, and Kahn was obliged to pull out three good saves in the last quarter of an hour. "We had to grit our teeth," Makaay remarked, as Hitzfeld's injury-depleted side visibly ran out of steam in the wake of Wednesday's energy-sapping meeting with Milan.

"Failure to win today would have been fatal," Hoeneß conceded. "But qualifying for the Champions League is back in our own hands now." The official described next weekend's trip to third-placed Stuttgart as "a pivotal match. It's our last chance to salvage third place in a face-to-face meeting with a rival."

<b>Kahn dreams on</b>

"By beating Leverkusen, we've set ourselves up for a showdown in Stuttgart," Hitzfeld agreed. "Now we have a direct clash and we can overtake them." However, and with an eye on a difficult injury situation at the club, the head coach refused to think any further ahead: "We don't want to start dreaming now."

As so often, Kahn is the exception to that rule. "Obviously we're focused on third place, but we wouldn't be Bayern Munich football club if we didn't have total belief in whatever remains possible," the captain declared after racking up his 400th top flight appearance in Munich colours. "I've seen so many things happen in the past. The teams ahead of us are winning all their games at the moment, but that'll change at some point. A lot of things can still happen. We'll await our chance."
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