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Upbeat mood after fine first half to 2011/12

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Upbeat mood after fine first half to 2011/12

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:10 pm

Bayern brought down the curtain on the first half of the 2011/12 Bundesliga campaign with fireworks, festive music, and a spectacular laser show at the Allianz Arena, celebrating a return to the "natural order" in the German top flight. FCB had earlier beaten bogey opponents FC Köln 3-0 to remain three points clear of champions Borussia Dortmund and ensure top spot at the halfway mark of the season for the 17th time.

"Taking everything together, we can be very, very satisfied - and I'm including the firework display at the end, that was very nice as well," a beaming Uli Hoeneß declared. "Bayern as a club is currently in the best possible shape," the FCB president continued, "this situation at Christmas means a decent quality of life for a month and a half. If you're second, third or fourth and ten points off the lead, it makes you sick."

After three years without winning the unofficial 'autumn championship', Bayern are finally back at the top of the table at the midpoint of the season. From a statistical point of view, Munich have an 87.5 percent chance of winning the league: the club in first place at Christmas has won the title in 14 of the last 16 seasons. "All credit to the team and the coach," enthused Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, "but let's not count our chickens before they've hatched."

New record goal difference

Bayern have made no secret of their title ambitions in an impressive autumn campaign. "We've given ourselves a small cushion. We have to keep our rivals at arm's length, and then we'll finish as champions," commented Mario Gomez, whose 16 league goals so far are a major contribution to Bayern's new record halfway-mark goal difference of +33. "This team has real quality, as we can see from the superb goal difference," agreed Rummenigge. Munich have scored 43 goals in their 17 matches, conceding only 10.

In the last fixture before the holidays, keeper Manuel Neuer enjoyed another peaceful afternoon, while the ball ended up in the Köln net three times. All the goals came in the second half: the game was still goalless at the break, and Bayern were down to ten men after Franck Ribéry was dismissed for a second bookable offence on 33 minutes. "I wasn't a happy man at half-time. I never thought we'd win so comfortably," Hoeneß admitted.

Ultra-defensive opponents

However, Gomez rewarded the home side for their control of the match with the opening goal from a Köln defensive howler three minutes after the restart. "We've come up against lots of teams who play defensively, but I've never experienced anything this extreme. They strung ten across the back," marvelled the striker, "we were lucky that they tried to play football by building from the back just once, and it backfired."

David Alaba (63) and Toni Kroos (88) ensured Munich's dominance was accurately reflected in the result: FCB had 67 percent of the possession and 17 shots to the visitors' four. "It was a deserved victory and the right margin," commented Jupp Heynckes. Even Ribéry's dismissal could not detract from the mood of satisfaction. "Franck has entertained us so much over the last six months," reflected Hoeneß, "we should take him to one side and say: That was dumb. But it's Christmas, so peace and goodwill to all. We'll forget it quickly."

Happy Heynckes

Bayern's generally impressive performances so far will, by contrast, remain in the memory. "We've performed with great authority the whole time," said Hoeneß, "that's thanks to the coach. The coach is always responsible for peace and harmony in the dressing room, and smart tactics. He's made a huge contribution to this development." But would Heynckes now receive a special Christmas bonus? "He gets a kiss from me," the FCB president grinned.

And what did Hoeneß want for Christmas? "For it to stay the way it is," he replied. That is the case for the Bundesliga, but FCB still have work to do in the cup with Tuesday's last sixteen trip to Bochum. A place in the quarter-finals would be the icing on the cake of a very good first half of the season. "It's been excellent so far," said Kroos, "if we now win in the cup, it'll be outstanding."
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