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Ruthless FCB move within a point of top spot

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Ruthless FCB move within a point of top spot

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:15 pm

In Sunday's field interviews, Uli Hoeneß certainly did his best to remain straight-faced when informed about results elsewhere. "Hoffenheim lost? We knew we'd be back in business if we won today - and that's very much the case," the Bayern general manager reacted, a smile threatening to flicker across his features. At this particular moment, Hoeneß radiated satisfaction. "It's been a great weekend," he said a little later, addressing reporters in the interview zone deep in the bowels of the Veltins Arena.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine a much better weekend for Bayern at this stage of the season. The board announced a record financial performance at Friday's AGM, new league leaders Bayer Leverkusen contrived to draw after leading 3-0 away to Karlsruhe on Saturday, and former top dogs Hoffenheim were falling 1-0 to Hertha BSC while Bayern were defeating Schalke 2-1 on Sunday. "People are feeling Bayern's hot breath, and some people can't cope with it," Hoeneß colourfully commented.

Just over three-and-a-half weeks ago, Bayern were seven points off the top of the standings in eleventh place, but Jürgen Klinsmann's side have won five on the bounce to move within a point of Leverkusen and Hoffenheim. The champions are inexorably closing in on the only position in the table that matters to them.

"This victory takes us another step towards where we want to be," said Klinsmann after watching his men turn in a display packed with intelligence and ruthlessness. "We want to be top at Christmas, and we're getting there step by step." The Bavarians could take over the lead as early as next weekend, when six of the top seven play each other, while Bayern visit relegation-threatened Borussia Monchengladbach.

Munich's second successive win at the once-impregnable Schalke Arena bore the hallmark of future champions at times. The home side dominated both territorially and in terms of possession, winning 18 corners along the way, but only really made chances in the first half, mostly from long range. "Schalke applied a lot of pressure in the first half-hour and had a couple of openings. We did have a nervous moment or two," Klinsmann acknowledged.

The coach found fault with "our organisation between defence and defensive midfield" during the Royal Blues' best spell. "We corrected that at half-time," reported Klinsmann, who almost found time to relax after the interval as his side defended their narrow advantage with something to spare: "We were close to perfect in defence."

The three points were sealed by a display of utter ruthlessness in front of goal. Luca Toni converted the first chance of the match to hand his side a third-minute lead. Jefferson Farfan levelled just two minutes later, but Franck Ribéry finished off another scintillating break to round off the scoring after half-an-hour.

"Slowly but surely, we're back to scoring the goals we need from very few chances," mused Hoeneß. The Bavarians certainly made the most of what came their way on Sunday. "They were really cold-blooded: three chances, two goals," rued Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones. It could have been even more bitter for the Royal Blues, as the missed opening was a late Jose Sosa effort off the post.

While Jones and his team-mates now have a little catching up to do, Bayern are right in the thick of the title race. "We've had to keep an eye on the teams ahead of us in recent weeks, but if we keep on playing like that and winning, we can stop focusing on Leverkusen or Hoffenheim, and we'll soon make it to the top of the pile," said Michael Rensing. In that instance, Hoeneß declared, "it'll be difficult for the other teams." Meanwhile, necks up and down the league are sensing the hot breath of Bayern.
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