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Satisfied Reds switch focus to Milan task

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Satisfied Reds switch focus to Milan task

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Apr 08, 2007 6:30 pm

08.04.2007

Despite the potential distraction of Wednesday's glamour tie at home to Italian giants AC Milan, Bayern did not neglect their domestic duties on Saturday with a hard-earned 2-1 away victory against Hanover 96, a result which maintains the Bundesliga champions' drive for a Champions League qualifying finish, and keeps alive their flickering hopes of defending the German league title. However, the Bavarians' 800th Bundesliga win required a dramatic improvement from the men in red after half time.

"We'll have to play 50 percent better than that against Milan," coach Ottmar Hitzfeld reflected afterwards. The 49,000 sell out crowd at the AWD Arena saw a Bayern line-up featuring six new faces spend the first half chasing shadows in a display which might have temporarily heartened any watching spies from the <i>Rossoneri</i>.

<b>Enforced changes</b>

"We had six new players, so we were too passive and struggled to settle," Hitzfeld reasoned. "It wasn't an entirely voluntary rotation policy," Hitzfeld explained, pointing out that four players had to be replaced due to injury. However, the General was not using that fact as an excuse: "I'd still been hoping we'd put up more resistance."

After last Tuesday's match of "high emotions," it had been tough rousing the players "to a peak performance" against the side lying seventh in the domestic championship. That played into Hanoverian hands in the first 45 minutes. "We let our opponents control the play, and we pulled out of our tack les," the 58-year-old criticised. "In the first half, my players didn't look as though they were determined to win at all costs."

<b>Dramatic transformation</b>

However, the home side had nothing more than Arnold Bruggink's deflected 44th minute opener to show for their dominance. "We looked at ourselves and asked how we could have played so badly in the first half. It was unacceptable," captain Oliver Kahn commented. "In the dressing room at half time, we contemplated the consequences of losing the match. We were up for it again after that."

The result was a complete transformation in the second period. "It was better in every respect," Hitzfeld commented. "We finally gained control by increasing the physical element. We had to react, and we reacted well. A draw would have been no use to us."

<b>Fired up for Milan</b>

Martin Demichelis capped a solid display as Lucio's stand-in with the 53rd minute equaliser, before Bastian Schweinsteiger sealed Bayern's sixth away win of the season with a thumping finish from the excellent Andreas Ottl's lay-off twenty minutes from time. "We've won 2-1, we've taken the points, thanks and goodbye," Schweinsteiger declared, moving on from the match as swiftly as Lukas Podolski: "The three points was all that mattered today."

Just minutes after the final whistle, the Munich camp was contemplating Wednesday's chance of a first European semi-final appearance since 2001. "We can approach Milan in confident mood. We have a 50:50 chance. That's a realistic estimate,", general manager Uli Hoeneß remarked. Added Podolski: We have to build on our display in the second half. If we do, I think we're in with a shout."
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