Created on 28-04-2008 at 00:00 AM
After Sunday's 4-1 victory over VfB Stuttgart and the near certainty of a 21st German league title, the Bayern stars only briefly saluted the heavens and the crowd. The somewhat muted celebration had to do with the next looming challenge. "What matters from now on is St. Petersburg,“ declared Mark van Bommel, mindful of Thursday's UEFA Cup semi-final return away to Zenit. "We're mentally focused on the next match, and not on the championship shield.“
In practical terms, what that meant was a brief acknowledgement of the supporters at both ends of the ground, before the squad disappeared to the dressing room for regeneration routines. The players took to exercise bicycles, reported to the masseur, and plunged into ice water baths.
Team delays party
"This isn't the time for a party. We have a vital fixture on Thursday, and that has to be our focus,“ confirmed Ottmar Hitzfeld, describing the match in the former Russia Imperial city as "one of our most important in the last eight years.“
The players even turned down the offer of a communal meal. "We asked the team if they'd like a small, spontaneous party in the event of us winning today,“ Uli Hoeneß revealed, "but the players declined, because they want to concentrate 100 percent on Thursday's match. I was pleased about that.“
No beer or champagne
"We know exactly what we have to do on Thursday, so we have to be professional and lay off the beer and champagne,“ Van Bommel remarked. Bayern will not pop the champagne corks until Sunday's league visit to Wolfsburg at the earliest. "There's no party today, because we have a vital match on Thursday. We'll probably rectify the omission next Sunday,“ observed chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Franck Ribéry, who was rested for the first hour against Stuttgart, even felt it was "important not to celebrate today.“ In common with the rest of the squad, the Frenchman made his way quietly home after Sunday's victory. "Our target is St. Petersburg,“ Ribery confirmed.