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Interview: Markus Babbel

‘Second place is still realistic’

Markus Babbel knows all about succeeding in football. He joined Bayern as a 10-year-old, and soon learned what it means to play for a club whose absolute priority is winning. He went on to score nine goals in 182 Bundesliga appearances for FCB, collecting three title winners’ medals, the 1996 UEFA Cup and the DFB Cup twice. Babbel left his city of birth in 2000 for a spell in England.

He returned to the Bundesliga in 2004, ending his playing career with VfB Stuttgart and a fourth German championship medal three years later. Babbel became assistant coach in Stuttgart, before taking the helm from Armin Veh in November last year. His team have lost only one of their 19 Bundesliga fixtures since then, and have climbed from eleventh to third in the standings.

Babbel now hopes to crown a stunning recovery and lead his side into the Champions League this Saturday – but it is Bayern who stand in the way. “Second place is still realistic, although away to Bayern is a monumental task for us. But if we keep up our recent form, we’ll be hard to beat, even for Bayern,” Babbel exclusively told fcbayern.de.

Interview: Markus Babbel

fcbayern.de: Markus Babbel, what are your expectations of the last game of the season?
Markus Babbel: “I expect it to be extremely tense. We’re not harbouring dreams of the tile, as I just can’t see it happening. A lot would have to happen for Wolfsburg to let it slip now, especially as their opponents Bremen go there after one cup final and before another. Second place is still realistic, although away to Bayern is a monumental task for us. But if we keep up our recent form, we’ll be hard to beat, even for Bayern.”

fcbayern.de: Jens Lehmann told the media referees have been biased against Stuttgart this season. That’s very provocative isn’t it?
Babbel: “Jens always knows exactly what he’s doing. He doesn’t feel pressure, he’s too used to it. And he’ll never be the most popular man at Bayern either. I don’t think there was anything too bad about his statements.”

fcbayern.de: Will keeping cool be decisive on Saturday?
Babbel: “It’ll definitely be a factor. We know we’ll have to concentrate and avoid mistakes, but we mustn’t be too uptight either. There’s no reason to freeze, because there’s no pressure on us. We’d like to win, but Bayern have to win. On the other hand, I know perfectly well that Bayern are very strong under pressure.”