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‘Only a friendly’

Coach and players turn attention to Erfurt

Jürgen Klinsmann matched his players for effort on the training ground this Wednesday, although the main business for the head coach was ensuring every single autograph request was fulfilled. The 44-year-old beamed his way through the mammoth task, earning rousing choruses of “Klinsi, Klinsi“ for his heroic efforts.

No fewer than 3,500 fans turned up for the public training session at the Säbener Strasse. Some 64,000 filled the Allianz Arena for the previous evening’s Franz Beckenbauer Cup clash with Inter Milan, although the Italians’ 1-0 victory ceased to matter for the Bayern squad more or less immediately after the final whistle.

Up for the Cup

“We’d rather have won, but the way we played at our current level of fitness and preparation was absolutely fine,” Klinsmann told the post-match news conference. “It was a good game of football which just lacked goals,” commented general manager Uli Hoeneß. Philipp Lahm insisted little could be read into the result: “I know it was against Inter, but it was still only a friendly.“

German Cup holders Bayern are in any case totally focused on Sunday’s first round tie away to Rot-Weiß Erfurt. “All our plans are geared towards Erfurt,” commented Klinsmann. “We’ll be in good shape for the match,” observed Lahm. “Erfurt are hardly Inter!” remarked Hoeneß, not the only man taken aback by the visiting Italians’ defensive approach. “We’ve played a very cunning team with a very clever coach, who’s come here with ten defenders and one striker,” the board director reflected.

Inter provide good test

Klinsmann reckoned the match had nevertheless provided useful insights: “Teams will often shut up shop against us just like Inter. It was interesting to see how our players handled the situation, and that made it a good test.“

The head coach was satisfied with his team’s build-up play, but felt his men lacked penetration in the final third of the pitch. “It was like handball. We played it from left to right across the box but didn’t make progress,” offered Toni Kroos, closest to scoring in the second half with two 20-yard efforts. A similar Hamit Altintop drive was the home team’s best chance before the break.

Peak form in September

FCB may need even quicker passing and more positional variety against defensive teams, Klinsmann argued, “but we don’t have the power for that yet. We’re not yet ready to apply constant pressure to the likes of Inter Milan.” The coach called for patience as the injured players and Euro 2008 contingent recover their form: “We just have to cope with the fact that some players have catching up to do, and they’ll need a few more weeks for that.“

“We knew we’d be inconsistent at the start,” Hoeneß confirmed. Klinsmann is not expecting the best from his men until late August or early September. “It’ll get better from match to match,” he reasoned, a sentiment echoed by the players. “Once we put into practice what the coach wants, we’ll be very hard to beat,” commented Michael Rensing, “the players and the coach just need time.“