Created on 31-07-2009 at 00:00 AM
An ecstatic crowd, a host of international stars on the field, and Bayern hoisting the trophy into the Munich sky at the end of the evening: winning the Audi Cup was the best possible preparation for the Bavarians' quest for silverware in 2009-10, and provided convincing evidence of FCB's readiness for the new campaign. "We can be pleased with the tournament, but it's high time we started for real," commented Philipp Lahm shortly before midnight on Thursday evening following his side's 7-6 penalty shoot-out victory over Manchester United. Michael Rensing, who saved two United spot-kicks, reckoned "we've rounded off pre-season brilliantly with the matches yesterday and today."
The Audi Cup meetings, the final against Manchester United and the previous day's 4-1 win over AC Milan, represented the final warm-ups ahead of Bayern's first competitive match of term, Sunday's DFB Cup first round visit to Neckarelz. Coach Louis van Gaal was happy to win the trophy, but also with the way his team performed for long spells.
Well on track
"The way we're letting the ball do the work is phenomenal," said Rensing after the United clash, in which the new coach's trademark style was much in evidence. "We put the ball on the ground and let it ping all round the park, we moved as a unit, and we pressed them back – we practise these things every day, and it's starting to bear fruit. I think we're well on track to do what the coach wants us to do."
Van Gaal was clearly moved by his first official trip to the Allianz Arena: "It was a fantastic atmosphere. It's really whetted my appetite for the season," he observed, declaring himself "very satisfied" with his team's first-half display against the Premier League champions. "We played some great football, and we caused Manchester no end of problems, but in the second half, they caused the problems for us."
The Dutch supremo knows he still has work to do, beginning with a Friday morning analysis of the Audi Cup and the entire pre-season period. "It was thoroughly positive," revealed Thomas Müller, "we improved with every game. We're already in good shape when our opponents have the ball, but we could do better when we're in possession."