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‘Superior in every respect’

Record-breaking Reds leave rivals trailing

The 174th Oktoberfest came to a close on Sunday, breaking new records for turnover and the volume of beer consumed. In the suburb of Fröttmaning, some seven miles from the city centre fairground, thousands of Bayern fans saluted their heroes as the men in red signed off for a two-week international break by setting a record of their own.

“It was a great game and we played fabulous football. We rewarded the crowd again and they’ve enjoyed it. People are going home totally satisfied,“ smiled Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after Munich completed a stylish 3-0 victory over Bavarian rivals 1. FC Nürnberg and extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings.

Beckenbauer impressed

“Five points clear of Karlsruhe, six clear of Bremen, seven clear of Schalke, 13 clear of Stuttgart – that’s a decent lead,” commented Rummenigge after the club’s best start in nine seasons. Bayern have only bettered the current record once, in Ottmar Hitzfeld’s first term at the helm back in 1998-9, when they opened with 25 points from eight wins and a draw, ultimately taking the title by 15 points from Bayer Leverkusen.

“Bayern are very impressive at the moment,” observed club president Franz Beckenbauer, praising the team’s attacking instincts: “25 goals scored and only three conceded - that says it all.“ Bayern’s goal difference of +22 after nine games is a new Bundesliga record. “This team can go far, it has quality and desire,” Rummenigge continued, before adding a warning: “Let no-one think we’re home and dry. No-one’s ever been crowned champions after nine matches.“

Superior in every respect

Nevertheless, few would bet against the Bavarians completing a lights-to-flag run to their 21st domestic championship. Sunday’s 69,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena watched a Bayern side “superior to us in every respect,” seasoned Nürnberg boss Hans Meyer freely admitted. “We had very little chance of taking anything from today’s game, especially not when Bayern simply let the ball do the work in such an amazing fashion.”

After struggling to unpick the visitors’ packed defence for the first quarter of the game, the Reds began firing on all cylinders midway through the first period and could easily have led at half-time by more than the goals from Luca Toni (31) and Zé Roberto (40). “We were flying, we passed very well and piled on the pressure,” Hitzfeld observed, delighted by “one of the best halves of football we’ve played this season.”

So far, so good

Bayern continued to press after the interval, but were a shade careless with their chances and only increased the margin of victory when Toni completed his first brace for the club with nine minutes to go. Hitzfeld was in no mood to criticise his men. “I was very pleased with our approach today, we passed well and put them under pressure. If we can keep winning games like this, we’ll finish as champions.“

Looking back on the first phase of intense activity this season, in which Bayern have recorded six wins and a draw from seven matches, the General declared himself pleased with the opening quarter of the campaign: “The team has emphatically indicated we’re among the favourites for the title,” the 58-year-old remarked. The thousands in Fröttmaning may well have a number of festival days ahead in the months leading up to May 2008.