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Hoeneß on Werder clash

‘It’s an utterly crucial fixture for us’

Whenever Uli Hoeneß’s packed schedule allows, the FCB board director likes to call by the professionals’ quarters at the Säbener Strasse training ground. Wednesday morning was a case in point, the general manager looking in for the latest on Franck Ribéry’s injury, only to hear the disappointing news that the France star is out of Sunday’s crunch meeting with Werder Bremen. “Obviously, we’re not as strong without Franck. But his absence shouldn’t be the kind of thing to throw us out of our stride,” Hoeneß exclusively related to

Interview: Uli Hoeneß Uli Hoeneß, the German footballing world is eagerly awaiting Bayern’s top-of-the-table clash with Werder on Sunday. What are your feelings ahead of the match?
Uli Hoeneß: “We’ve always said we’re in a good position for the second half of the season, because with the exception of Schalke, we play all our main rivals at home. But it’s still an utterly crucial fixture for us, because a win would see us pull a little further clear of Bremen. I don’t think any of us believed we’d be three points ahead of Werder going into the game.” How surprised were you by Bremen’s defeat at home to Bochum last weekend?
Hoeneß: “I don’t think anyone saw that coming, but you never quite know where you stand after the winter break. Naturally, Bremen were very unlucky in that the goal which set Bochum on their way to victory was patently offside.“ So you must be even more satisfied with Bayern’s hard-earned away win in Rostock last Friday?
Hoeneß: “There’s a new trend in the media: Bayern are supposed to win all their matches 6-0. We used to be delighted by the simple fact of winning away from home, we used to buy champagne on the flight back. Now we’re supposed to crush every team we meet. I thought we played well in the first half, but we failed to make it 3-0 when we had the chance. Then they pulled one back, the 30,000 at the stadium went wild, Rostock fought like madmen and went hell for leather at our goal. Add to that a difficult pitch and a blustery wind, and it was obvious we’d come under pressure. We weren’t very good for twenty minutes, but I thought we were OK again in the last quarter of an hour.“ Franck Ribéry missed the second half in Rostock, and he’s out of the meeting with Bremen. How bad a loss is that?
Hoeneß: “We all know Franck’s an extremely important player. But as we already know he can’t play on Sunday, the coach and the team have time to work on alternatives. I’m pretty sure it won’t be as much of a problem as having him play a half but be unable to continue.“ So you believe FCB can compensate for Franck’s absence?
Hoeneß: “Obviously, if he wasn’t an exceptional player, we wouldn’t have paid €25 million for him. And obviously, we’re not as strong without Franck. But his absence shouldn’t be the kind of thing to throw us completely out of our stride. We have Schweinsteiger, Altintop, Kroos, any number of players capable of filling Ribéry’s position. I don’t see it as a particularly great problem for us.“