Created on 16-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
The warning signs were posted early on Saturday in Cottbus. “We lost every single challenge in the first ten minutes, and from then on, I knew it was going to be difficult for us,” Ottmar Hitzfeld reflected after Bayern’s sobering reverse away to Energie Cottbus, the bottom club going into the weekend. A lacklustre Munich side lost 2-0, their second league defeat of the season.
“We had a catastrophic day. We did pretty much everything wrong that you can do wrong,” continued Hitzfeld, lamenting his team’s failure to heed his explicit pre-match warning. “With this totally unexpected defeat, our players have thrown the Bundesliga title race wide open again. That’s why we’re just a little upset,” general manager Uli Hoeneß fumed, crediting Energie for a “fully deserved victory“.
The first 22,743 full house of the season at the Stadium of Friendship saw a Bayern performance devoid of the grit and determination needed to trouble the relegation-haunted home side. “Right from the start, we shirked our tackles and gave them too much space,” Hitzfeld raged, blasting his team’s “disastrous tackling in the first quarter of an hour.“
Captain Oliver Kahn was similarly in no mood to pull punches. “Cottbus are fighting for their lives, but all we had to offer was arrogance,” admonished Kahn, the only Bayern man to come anywhere near his normal form with a string of decent saves to prevent an even greater embarrassment. “Cottbus played above themselves, but only because our attitude was so slack,“ Hitzfeld added.
Worst half of the season
“We also made far too many mistakes in defence,” the General commented, exemplified by the lapses for Serb marksman Branko Jelic’ 18th minute opener and decisive second 20 minutes later. Both goals owed much to the absence of the suspended Martin Demichelis in the holding role. “We could have used him today, this part of the midfield was exactly where it all went wrong,” Hoeneß mused.
Franck Ribéry compounded matters by wasting his side’s best chance to claw their way back into the match, firing a weak penalty too close to Energie keeper Gerhard Tremmel after 28 minutes. “I’m blaming myself, I was still thinking about the penalty right up to half-time,” Ribéry confessed.
Short, sharp shock for FCB
The Frenchman has been in tremendous form of late, but he and his team-mates were a shadow of their normal selves in the Lausitz region. “We didn’t show up today. We simply weren’t aggressive enough,” a rueful Daniel van Buyten offered. “The first half was the worst we’ve played all season. Cottbus were much more alert, but we let our heads hang. We didn’t do enough to take anything from the game.“
“We totally failed to do what we set out to do,” lamented Miroslav Klose. “None of us gave it our all. We didn’t look out for each other as a team,” the Germany international said. “I wouldn’t call that a slip-up. I’d call it a painful lesson, although we’ll draw the right conclusions from it.“
Taking nothing for granted
There is little time for Bayern to lick their wounds, as they host VfL Wolfsburg in a DFB German Cup semi-final on Wednesday. The defeat in Cottbus would be “a good way of waking a few of us up,” Hitzfeld reflected. “Some of the players obviously thought it would be enough just to turn up, and we’d stroll our way to the title. We’ll have realised at last we’re not champions yet by a long way.“