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The joy of football

Lisbon gala as inspiration for Bremen clash

Despite Wednesday’s gala display in beating Sporting Lisbon 5-0, the Bayern stars are keeping their feet firmly on the ground. Immediately after the final whistle in the Portuguese capital, the players and the coaching staff turned their focus to Sunday’s crunch Bundesliga encounter away to Werder Bremen. “We’ve blown it a little in the Bundesliga. We have some catching up to do,” commented coach Jürgen Klinsmann ahead of the duel with the northern club.

“We have to carry on where we left off in Lisbon,” former Bremen stalwart Miroslav Klose urged ahead of his latest return to a former stamping ground. After the rarity of back-to-back league defeats, the champions are determined to keep a clean sheet at the back and take their chances ruthlessly at the other end, the surest recipe towards making inroads into the four-point gap to top spot.

False rumours

“The whole team rediscovered the joy of playing football,” Franck Ribéry said in Munich on Friday. Despite his natural instinct to attack, the France star insisted defensive stability was the key to success. “It’s important to keep it tight and play as a unit. That’s what we did in Lisbon, and it worked well.“

A rogue press report claimed the newly-won solidity sprang from a team meeting held in the absence of the coaching staff, “but I know nothing at all about this,” Ribéry stated. Klose rejected the rumour in the strongest terms. “It’s utter rubbish,” the striker declared, “I can confirm there was no team meeting in which we devised tactics to recommend to the coach.“

Van Bommel’s signed statement

What actually happened was a meeting between the senior players on the players’ council and the coaches to analyse the defeat against Köln. “We all agreed that when Bayern Munich lose three out of four matches, something’s not right. The coach was party to every meeting,“ Klose confirmed. “We didn’t come up with alternative tactics. We simply kept it tight, and all of us defended and attacked together. We’ll try and do that again in Bremen,“ added Ribéry.

Captain Mark van Bommel issued an official statement on Friday rejecting the bogus report. On behalf of the team, the 31-year-old said in a news release there had been “no meeting without coach Jürgen Klinsmann“ and that “there was no decision from the team regarding a different tactical plan.“ Tactics were “always a decision for the coach.“