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Stuttering start

Weary Bayern relieved to make second round

Bayern’s 3-1 victory over sixth-tier Neckarelz to make the DFB Cup second round was nothing if not laboured, although an act of giant-killing was never on the cards at the Rhein-Neckar Arena on Sunday. While acknowledging the need for improvement, coach Louis van Gaal sprang to his players’ defence afterwards. “That was our tenth match in the space of four-and-a-half weeks. That was too much.”

The burden was at its greatest in the days leading up to the cup encounter. On Wednesday and Thursday, Bayern met AC Milan and Manchester United. The first competitive match of the new term kicked off just three days later. “Turning the focus on Neckarelz in the space of two days was always going to be tough. Three games in five days is irresponsible,” admonished van Gaal, sparing his men from overly harsh words. “Our opponents made it very difficult for us. I reckon we didn’t play too badly today.”