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Stars sign off for holidays in good shape

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Stars sign off for holidays in good shape

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:30 pm

It was way after midnight before the Bayern party landed in Munich in the small hours of Wednesday morning. The weary, but relieved and satisfied players officially set off on vacation as Bundesliga leaders, holders of a place in the Champions League last sixteen - and DFB Cup quarter-finalists, following Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Bochum. "I'm delighted it's been such a fine finish," said Christian Nerlinger.

The sentiment was shared by Jupp Heynckes: "It's important for us to be well-positioned in all three competitions at Christmas." Germany's biggest club have seven more points in the Bundesliga than at the same stage last season, and cruised past top teams Manchester City and Napoli in Europe's elite club competition. However, second division Bochum "fought really well," Heynckes freely admitted, as the prized berth in the last eight of the domestic cup proved one of the toughest challenges of the lot.

"We were hesitant and short of ideas," reflected Holger Badstuber following a disappointing first half against the side lying ninth in the second division. FCB controlled the match but created very few chances, and defended poorly for Giovanni Federico's 26th-minute opener. "In the first half, we weren't at 100 percent in terms of attitude," criticised captain Philipp Lahm. Heynckes said he was "not satisfied" with his team's first half display, as Bochum caused problems with solid defending and frequent breaks upfield.

"It was a typical cup tie," the Munich boss continued, "the underdogs rose above themselves." Heynckes clearly found the right words at half-time, "and we were much more mobile, authoritative and committed," the coach said. Toni Kroos equalised on 52 minutes with his first goal in the cup this term, before Arjen Robben sealed a tight but ultimately deserved victory with a stoppage-time winner.

A day's extra vacation

The Dutch ace saved his team from a potentially problematic period of extra time, and spared the club an extra night in an Essen hotel. "It would have been a problem, as we only had until half-past midnight to land in Munich," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealed. "Maybe the players realised they'd lose a day of the holidays, and stepped up the pace again right at the end," the chairman mused.

The 15-time DFB Cup winners are through to the last eight for the tenth time in the last 11 seasons. "I'm delighted, everyone's delighted," commented Franck Ribéry, who provided the perfect lay-off for Robben's winner and was comfortably the man of the match. "It was an incredibly important result," continued the France star, as he looked forward to a 12-day break.

Variety of holiday destinations

A handful of the FCB men actually started their holidays a couple of hours earlier. Heynckes, Robben, Manuel Neuer, Kroos and assistant coaches Peter Hermann and Hermann Gerland travelled direct from Bochum to their families. As for the rest, the holiday season promises a wide variety of destinations and activities.

Bastian Schweinsteiger is off to the sun, but Neuer plans to go skiing. Ribéry will be by the sea in his hometown of Boulogne, despite the rain and grey skies over the northern French coast. "It's more important to be with my family, celebrate, laugh and relieve the mental pressure," the winger explained.

Arjen's appeal to the team

The players now report back to Munich on 2 January for the flight to the winter training camp in Qatar, where the focus is on laying the foundations for a successful second half of term. "The prizes aren't handed out for another six months," noted Robben, "it's been an optimal first half, but it's still only halfway, and we mustn't forget that." It is a timely warning, but can be put on hold until the New Year. "It's been a long time since we'll have had such a good Christmas," Lahm concluded.
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