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FCB centre-halves hit peak form

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Of the eleven FCB stars who represented their countries in Tuesday and Wednesday’s first round of international matches in 2009, central defenders Lucio, Martin Demichelis and Daniel van Buyten claimed the bulk of the plaudits. All three returned to Munich on the back of 2-0 victories with their national teams, as the trio roared into form ahead of Bayern’s showdown meeting with Hertha BSC Berlin.

"It’s obviously a confidence-booster," commented Van Buyten, scorer of both goals in Belgium’s victory over Slovenia. "I was delighted with my goals, and it was a good thing for me," the 1.96m (6 ft 5 in) colossus remarked. Daniel even had the ball in the net a third time, only to see the ‘goal’ chalked off for an infringement.

Van Buyten on fire

"The 90 minutes did me the world of good," the 30-year-old continued, "especially because I’ve not played much recently." Van Buyten described his fine display as “a statement of intent” towards team-mates Lucio and Demichelis, currently first choice at the club.

"Leaving Daniel on the bench really hurts, but Lucio and Demichelis are world-class," coach Jürgen Klinsmann declared ahead of the international round. The boss explicitly stated his hopes of a positive evening for the big Belgian. "He congratulated me and said how pleased he was," Van Buyten reported, "I’ve sent a message to the coach."

Immovable Demichelis