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Two-horse race

Müller: Leverkusen are strong, but we’re stronger

The mood for Monday training at the Säbener Strasse was cheerily upbeat. Was it due to the relatively balmy air temperature of eight degrees, after weeks of snow and sub-zero conditions? Or was it down to Per Mertesacker? The Bremen defender struck a stoppage-time equaliser against Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday, meaning the tense status quo at the top of the Bundesliga standings was maintained.

“Good training, very good indeed,” Louis van Gaal declared as he sent his men to warm down following an 80-minute workout. As ever, the Dutchman spent the session loudly exhorting his troops to give of their best in a series of routines, from sprinting to man-over situations in a confined space.

However, some two days after the 1-1 draw in the Bavaria derby away to Nürnberg at the weekend, the sense of dismay in the FCB camp had not entirely evaporated. “We’re still angry about the draw in Nürnberg. It’s a game we should have won,” Bastian Schweinsteiger told

Naturally, the midfielder was delighted at the assistance given to Bayern by Wolfsburg and Bremen. “They’ve done a great job,” grinned Schweinsteiger, expressing special thanks to Germany team-mate Mertesacker: “It’s really nice of him to help us a bit. It was very important he equalised, because it means we stay just a goal behind Leverkusen.” Elsewhere, Wolfsburg’s victory over Schalke means Bayern extended their lead over the side in third by another point.