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Ten clear with six to play

FCB close in on title with ‘textbook display’

The team danced for joy in front of the South Terrace loyalists in the immediate aftermath of Bayern’s ruthless 5-0 demolition of Borussia Dortmund on Sunday, but Uli Hoeneß was busy inspecting the Allianz Arena playing surface. “We’re wondering about replacing the turf one more time,” the general manager revealed, a model of inner calm among the frenzied celebrations. His analysis of the match was equally level-headed. “It was an important result,” the director said, “we’ve all but won the title race.”

With six games left, Bayern are ten points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, “so we could lose our three remaining away games and still win the league. Not a lot can go wrong now,” Hoeneß reflected, although he remained true to his normal cautious self: “I refuse to accept congratulations.“

Scintillating attack

The same attitude permeated the entire Bayern camp. Ottmar Hitzfeld will only acknowledge congratulatory messages “once nothing else can happen, although it’s looking good with us ten points ahead,” the coach agreed. “We wouldn’t normally throw it away now,” said Philipp Lahm, although last week’s events in Getafe showed nothing can be taken for granted. “We were reminded of what can happen in football, so you should never celebrate too early.“

The Reds confined their elation to the manner of victory over Dortmund. “In the first half-hour, we played football to take your breath away, football from another planet. Each goal came from a flowing move, each goal was a feast for the eyes, and worth the admission money on its own,” enthused Hoeneß, “it was our best home display in ages.”

Textbook stuff

Bayern rattled in four goals in the first 22 minutes as woeful Dortmund were “slaughtered,” as BVB boss Thomas Doll lamented. Lukas Podolski (3), Zé Roberto (8) and Luca Toni (18, 22) applied the finishing touches to a string of slick, high-tempo moves. “Our passing was straight out of the textbook,” Hoeneß commented, “if the German FA wants to make a film about counter-attacking or pass-three-times-and-score, they could use some of our goals today.“ The 69,000 paying customers saw Andreas Ottl (67) add a fifth for good measure.

“I actually thought it would be hard work today,” Hoeneß mused, not the only expert surprised at the ease of the Bavarians’ victory in the light of the 120-minute battle in Getafe. “So let me praise the team,” the manager continued, “they were in a scrap on Thursday, but played champagne football today and had the entire crowd on its feet.“

Goals galore for Toni

”Getafe was a huge shot in the arm, and we were still buzzing with adrenalin today,” Hitzfeld argued, as his men made light of the absence of Franck Ribéry, Miroslav Klose, Mark van Bommel and Lucio. “It was conclusive proof that we’re capable of magical football even without Franck and Miro,” Hoeneß declared.

However, Luca Toni appears indispensable right now. The Italian had a hand in all four of the early goals, netting two of them himself. With 18 goals already to his name, he is a solid bet to finish as the league’s leading scorer, but the 30-year-old is an insatiable marksman. “At half-time, I asked him if he was tired and wanted to come off, but he just said: Nein, Tore, Tore, Tore [No, goals, goals, goals],” Hitzfeld revealed.

No clues for final

Many fans will now be expecting a stroll in Saturday’s Cup final against the same Borussia Dortmund, “but let me issue a warning,” Hoeneß admonished, “it’ll be a lot harder than today. Dortmund will be hurt and angry about this defeat. I’m sure we’ll see a very different Borussia in Berlin.“

The task now was to ensure the players understood this, Hoeneß suggested. “If they think we can just turn up and carry on like that next Saturday, it’ll be a tough game for us.“ Hitzfeld came close to lamenting the simplicity and size of the win. “We wanted to lay down a marker, but not as emphatically as that. We’ll have strengthened our opponents’ resolve.“

Focus on final

With one hand now firmly on the championship shield, Bayern can afford to spend more time on other tasks. “We’ll be better able to concentrate on the Cup and the UEFA Cup,” opined Hoeneß. In the meantime, the club captain will ensure his team does not underestimate Dortmund next week. “That’ll never happen with Oliver Kahn in the team,” laughed Bastian Schweinsteiger.