Created on 20-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
Paul Breitner was already singing Martin Demichelis’ praises at half-time. “He couldn’t have played any better than that. His vision, attitude and skill in the challenge are just gigantic,” the club consultant told TV reporters. “I’d say this is Martin Demichelis’ best season yet,“ Breitner continued. It was certainly Demichelis’ best game so far this term.
Two obvious reasons for Breitner’s admiration sprang to mind. On the one hand, the Argentine shone in defence in the Cup semi-final against VfL Wolfsburg. “He was world-class,” chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge enthused. “It was an outstanding display,” Ottmar Hitzfeld agreed.
Micho for unlucky Van Buyten
The other reason was recent history. Five days earlier, Hitzfeld threw Demichelis out of the squad for the trip to Cottbus after the player refused to fill the defensive midfield role. “He let the team down,” Hitzfeld commented. The ‘rebel’ finally went to see the coach on Monday to apologise, whereupon the General lifted the player’s club suspension and reinstated him in the squad.
“I knew he was wound up and desperate to prove a point. That’s why I let him play,” Hitzfeld explained after selecting Demichelis ahead of Daniel van Buyten: “It was a difficult decision, because Daniel’s done very well recently. But it was obvious Martin would be back in defence at some stage, because he was outstanding there in the first half of the season.“
Energy from anger
“I wanted to play again as soon as possible and show what I’m capable of,” Demichelis remarked. He had been consumed with rage, he confessed. “But I turned that into positive energy. I concentrated hard and was totally fired up,” explained Micho, declaring himself “very proud” at Rummenigge’s words of praise.
“He’s reacted totally professionally to his suspension,” commented Rummenigge, adding that he “expected nothing less” from Demichelis. “Martin convincingly showed he has nerves of steel,“ Hitzfeld summarised.