Created on 08-05-2008 at 00:00 AM
The 90 minutes of football on Wednesday were good value for the Allianz Arena crowd's admission money, but events following the final whistle set the seal on a celebratory evening at Bayern's imposing home ground. First, the players individually thanked the faithful for their support throughout the season via messages on the stadium's giant video screens, before the lights went down and a couple of spotlights were trained on the sacred turf.
The lights duly picked out the Bayern stars emerging from the bowels of the stadium back out onto the pitch in groups according to nationality, each passing a line-up of the three trophies claimed by the club this season. The squad as a whole then took a lap of honour while waving a vast Bayern flag to the strains of Queen's timeless triumphal anthem We are the Champions. Finally, the 69,000 were even led in a spot of community singing by none other than Oliver Kahn.
Praise from Hoeneß
Three days after a wild, relief-fuelled on-pitch party in Wolfsburg, Ottmar Hitzfeld and his men hailed a 21st German title with their loyal home supporters. Showers of Weissbier were replaced on this occasion by some champagne football as the freshly-crowned champions registered a supremely comfortable 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld.
"It gladdened the heart. The players put in tons of effort, and obviously enjoyed themselves. They did everything imaginable to entertain the crowd. That was great stuff," a thoroughly satisfied Uli Hoeneß commented, describing the finale as "a very good idea. It was moving, because the players took centre stage, which is how it should be.“
Arminia let off lightly
"I think we've sent the crowd home happy. It was a successful evening," felt coach Hitzfeld. Well-worked goals from Man of the Match Frank Ribéry (26th minute) and Lukas Podolski (47) and plenty of goalmouth action, especially in the second half, were the principal ingredients of a good quality match, which Bayern could in truth have won by a considerably wider margin. "I'm pleased the team turned in a professional performance and put together a few excellent moves," summarised Hitzfeld.
After the draw in Wolfsburg which mathematically sealed the league title, Hitzfeld appealed to his players' sense of pride and duty. "This is Bayern Munich football club, and we have obligations to the other clubs in the Bundesliga.“ Indeed, the stars never looked like taking the match anything other than entirely seriously.
Bayern delight neighbours
"The players gave a very good account of themselves. It's not easy when you have nothing riding on a match against a team still battling against relegation. You have to pull yourself together and perform, and we did just that," club captain Kahn remarked. Bayern contrived to entertain two sets of fans on the night, their own in Munich and those of Bavarian neighbours FC Nürnberg some 160 kilometres to the north, where a win over Duisburg and Bielefeld's reverse in the state capital kept alive FCN's hopes of avoiding the drop.
"We have nothing left to play for, but we want to avoid the accusation that we've influenced the sporting outcome. We'll take it totally seriously right up to the last day," insisted Kahn, surprised and delighted at his new-found role as crowd singing co-ordinator after his third-last match as a professional: "These are very special moments. Now I know how it goes, so I can do it whenever it's needed.“