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‘Nothing has changed’

Reds remain on course despite HSV draw

Bayern missed the opportunity to open up a daunting six-point gap at the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday, but even though a 1-1 draw at home to fourth-placed Hamburger SV ultimately rates as a disappointment, Munich still stretched their lead by a point and remain on course for a lights-to-flag charge to the title.

“Obviously, we’re not happy about dropping two points,” an understandably downcast Bayern boss Ottmar Hitzfeld declared after 90 absorbing minutes in “a big match of real quality. We were the better team and had the better of the chances, but we gifted them a goal, so we have to be satisfied with a point, although a draw is basically not enough for us.“

No need for long faces

The coach’s comments were echoed by Uli Hoeneß: “Obviously, we’re a shade disappointed not to gave pulled clear. A win would definitely have put us in pole position, but we didn’t get it, so the work goes on,” the general manager observed. “Basically, nothing has changed. We’re still extremely well-placed. There’s no need for long faces.“

In a carbon copy of the meeting with Werder Bremen two weeks ago, Oliver Kahn & Co were again forced to make do with a point against visiting title rivals. Bayern have now drawn eight games this term, five of them at the Allianz Arena. “But we’ve only lost once in 35 competitive matches, which is a tremendous record,” captain Oliver Kahn reminded reporters on Monday.

Lacking the killer touch

The 38-year-old keeper feels the team lacks a little of the cold-blooded ruthlessness needed to see off direct rivals in the championship battle. “We need to rediscover our killer instinct, scoring a second immediately after equalising, and delivering the knockout blow,” Kahn mused. “We’re failing to finish off our opponents,“ Hoeneß agreed.

As has often been the norm this season, Bayern led the way in all the critical match stats with the exception of goals scored, as Zé Roberto’s fourth of the season after 66 minutes only served to cancel out Ivica Olic’s opener on the hour, the Hamburg striker profiting from Lucio’s sole error of the afternoon to convert the visitors’ solitary clear-cut chance.

Plenty of character

“You can’t afford mistakes like that in top matches,” reflected Hitzfeld, although the coach was quick to defend the Brazil centre-half: “It wasn’t Lucio’s best day, but it’s bound to happen occasionally when you play 70 matches a season.“ Hitzfeld was pleased with his side’s “high morale“ in bouncing back to equalise so quickly.

“It would be nice for our nerves and general state of mind if we had more of a cushion,” Hoeneß admitted afterwards, “but on the other hand, maybe it’s better this way, given what we’re aiming at this season.” At the end of the day, the general manager was in a good mood by the time he left the Allianz Arena. “Obviously, a six-point lead would have been comforting, but if we don’t have it now, we might do in the future. Provided we stay top and our fate is in our own hands, I won’t be worried.“