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Closing in fast

Ruthless FCB move within a point of top spot

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In Sunday’s field interviews, Uli Hoeneß certainly did his best to remain straight-faced when informed about results elsewhere. “Hoffenheim lost? We knew we’d be back in business if we won today – and that’s very much the case,” the Bayern general manager reacted, a smile threatening to flicker across his features. At this particular moment, Hoeneß radiated satisfaction. “It’s been a great weekend,” he said a little later, addressing reporters in the interview zone deep in the bowels of the Veltins Arena.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine a much better weekend for Bayern at this stage of the season. The board announced a record financial performance at Friday’s AGM, new league leaders Bayer Leverkusen contrived to draw after leading 3-0 away to Karlsruhe on Saturday, and former top dogs Hoffenheim were falling 1-0 to Hertha BSC while Bayern were defeating Schalke 2-1 on Sunday. “People are feeling Bayern’s hot breath, and some people can’t cope with it,” Hoeneß colourfully commented.

Just over three-and-a-half weeks ago, Bayern were seven points off the top of the standings in eleventh place, but Jürgen Klinsmann’s side have won five on the bounce to move within a point of Leverkusen and Hoffenheim. The champions are inexorably closing in on the only position in the table that matters to them.