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Fine-tuning ahead

Bayern seek the last couple of percent

Louis van Gaal always warned that the process of bedding in his system and philosophy “would take longer than pre-season.” The first two Bundesliga fixtures of the new campaign have proved the Bayern boss right. Munich drew both games 1-1 and have two points so far, “which isn’t optimal,” acknowledged Hamit Altintop, “but we shouldn’t read too much into it. I reckon we’re heading in a very, very good direction.”

The first 30 minutes of Saturday’s stalemate at home to Werder Bremen certainly bore out the Turkey star’s thesis. “That was good football,” Van Gaal enthused, “that’s the Bayern I want to see: dominant, controlling the opposition and the match.” The problem was a lack of goals. “We never managed to find the decisive pass and get out shots away,” observed Bastian Schweinsteiger, “we’re not ruthless enough in front of goal yet.”

A lot more time on the practice ground would be necessary before his tactics truly took root, warned Van Gaal, although the coach has seen his training plan badly disrupted of late. In the week running up to the Bremen clash, he was unable to work with anything more than a rump squad due to a raft of international call-ups, and long-term injury victim Franck Ribéry only reported fit two weeks ago. What this means is that Van Gaal is only now able to start on the fine-tuning with his team.

Lacking a couple of percent

“It’s a new system and we still have to get used to it. Obviously, that takes time,” said Schweinsteiger. “We’re definitely in favour of the coach’s philosophy. You’d expect us to be lacking a couple of percent at this stage,” reasoned Altintop, taking a confident view of the near future: in the course of the next few weeks, Bayern would “dominate opponents and get the results we want, so we hit our targets step by step.”

Bayern are looking to take the next step forward with a first league win of the new season in Saturday’s trip to Mainz. No other result would be acceptable, warned Schweinsteiger, as FCB could otherwise lose contact with the leading group: “We just need to watch ourselves a little now. We need all three points on Saturday.” That is exactly what Bayern will get, the midfielder said. “I have a good feeling.”