Created on 02-02-2008 at 00:00 AM
There was a sting in the tail of Bayern's successful start to the second half of the season away to Hansa Rostock, as a delay at the airport on the Baltic coast meant the FCB team plane was unable to depart in time for the final permitted landing slot in Munich at half-past midnight. Oliver Kahn & Co were left to amuse themselves as best they could until the aircraft was finally cleared for take-off at 4 am.
The unplanned stopover at Rostock airport at least allowed plenty of time for the playing and coaching staff to analyse a hard-earned but thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory in the opening league fixture after the mid-season break. "It was the first match after the break against Rostock, a team we really should expect to beat," observed Ottmar Hitzfeld, declaring himself "very pleased“ with the result. "We've taken three points, which is what we came here for.“
Hitzfeld's men were forced to work hard for the win in front of a 29,000 capacity crowd at the Ostsee stadium. Bayern were coasting at the break after goals from Franck Ribéry (11th minute) and Luca Toni (43), but Enrico Kern (52) pulled one back and the outcome was on a knife-edge until the end.
"We played well in the first half and ought to have been further in front," Hitzfeld mused. "We should have been three or four up at half-time," agreed Willy Sagnol after completing his first Bundesliga match in ten months. "But Rostock were transformed after their goal," Hitzfeld acknowledged, "it gave them a real shot in the arm.“
Tough going at set pieces
With Ribéry forced off at the break nursing a stretched hamstring, the visitors became "a little nervous," Hitzfeld acknowledged. "It would have been a lot easier for us if we hadn't conceded the goal so early in the second half. We were in trouble for a spell after that. We had to work extremely hard, especially at set pieces.“
"We stopped playing football and resorted to long balls,“ the coach continued, but he was nevertheless pleased with his team's resolve and endurance. "I'm happy with our fighting spirit, but not with the football we played," he summarised, "we showed two sides to our character today.“
Searching for rhythm
"We knew it would be a fight, and the second half confirmed it," captain Oliver Kahn reflected. "The first half showed we're capable of quality football," the keeper reasoned. Added Miroslav Klose: "We have to work on keeping it up over the full 90 minutes.“
A good time to start would be the next Bundesliga fixture on 10 February, when closest rivals Werder Bremen visit the Allianz Arena. "We haven't slotted into our rhythm yet. We'll definitely have improved by the time we meet Bremen," Hitzfeld assured.