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Winning comebacks

Van Bommel and Toni return to the fray

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Most of the Bayern stars were happily offering opinions to the media after Saturday’s 2-1 win away to SC Freiburg, but Mark van Bommel preferred to let others do the talking. The Dutch midfielder is normally one of the more loquacious members of the squad, but on this occasion, he chose to keep himself to himself near the exit to the badenova stadium.

“We lacked creativity and switched the play badly,” the 32-year-old quietly complained, insisting that the three points were the only reason for satisfaction. After a two month injury lay-off, the Bayern skipper is back at the helm – and the benefits were obvious for all to see. Together with striker Luca Toni, who stepped out in the Bundesliga for the first time since 23 May, Van Bommel guided his men to their fifth league win of the campaign. “It was a terrific comeback in terms of the result,” Van Bommel conceded.

Job well done

“It’s important to get our experienced players back,” enthused general manager Uli Hoeneß. “Both did their jobs very well,” Louis van Gaal agreed. With an eye on Wednesday’s challenging Champions League trip to Girondins Bordeaux, the coach substituted both comeback men on 70 minutes, immediately after FCB had taken a 2-0 lead.

Up to that point, Van Bommel convincingly brought all his well-known abilities to bear in a manner which suggested he had never been away. He shouted instructions from the central midfield area, won crucial tackles, and was a model of neat distribution. “He played extremely well in the second half,” Van Gaal said. A stabilising factor in midfield, “who keeps things organised on the field of play,” had been missing in Bayern’s play of late, the coach observed in the build-up to the match.

Busy Toni

Toni, making his first Bundesliga start in almost five months, turned in a similarly convincing display. He was unable to add his name to the scoresheet, but the World Cup winner tirelessly went about his work, battling for every loose ball, and playing a significant role in Thomas Müller’s 42nd-minute opener.

The pair will now hope to carry on where they left off when FCB visit the Stade Chaban Delmas on Wednesday. Victory over the French champions would see Van Gaal’s side take a giant stride towards the knockout stages in Europe’s premier club competition.