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No dreams, no complacency

Call for total focus on trophy quest

The Marienplatz Town Hall square in Munich looks much as it usually does at this time of year. The first tourists are gazing about and snapping pics for the family album, the locals are criss-crossing the square as they go about their business, and the adjacent shopping streets are doing brisk trade. However, if things go according to plan for Bayern, the square will become a seething mass of red and white in May.

That’s when the club aim to gather on the Town Hall balcony and show at least one trophy to the crowds below. The Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League are all in FCB’s sights this term. “It could end up being an extraordinary season,” commented skipper Mark van Bommel, eyeing a potentially unique treble. Bayern have never before collected three major trophies in a single campaign.

Priority to the league

However, the absolute priority remains the domestic league title, as chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the mass-market Bild tabloid: “I think this trophy is the key to any further success. The championship, then the cup final against Bremen. And then perhaps the biggest one of the lot, the Champions League final,” Rummenigge said.

Christian Nerlinger also feels the Bundesliga is the most important prize. “That would make it a successful season. We’ll see what else we might collect on top,” the director of sport told Sport1. “Obviously, we’re looking to beat Lyon in the Champions League semi-finals, and obviously, we want to win the DFB cup final. But that’s an ideal world, and we mustn’t lose sight of reality.” Nerlinger would prefer to ban all talk of a treble: “I think that’s over the top. We mustn’t raise expectations to the skies.”

Bayern are concerned with facts, not dreams, and the facts show seven games definitely still to play this season: Hannover (H), the semi-final first leg against Lyon (H), Gladbach (A), the semi-final return in Lyon, Bochum (H) and then the Bundesliga finale away to Hertha at the Berlin Olympic stadium, before a return to the same ground a week later for the cup final against Werder Bremen.

“I think at this stage we’d do ourselves a favour by taking each game as it comes. I believe going into raptures in the current situation would be counter-productive,” Rummenigge warned, pointing out that Bayern have won nothing yet this term: “We mustn’t count our chickens before they’ve hatched.”

Team effort required

With Munich only two points ahead of Schalke in the league, and the players returning on Wednesday after two days off to recharge their batteries, Louis van Gaal and his men began their preparations for the run-in. The training programme featured sprinting and co-ordination exercises, and first-time shooting practice.

“These are the make or break weeks. We have to mobilise everything we have left, throw all our energies into the task, and focus totally for the last few weeks,” said Holger Badstuber. The youngster, second only to Philipp Lahm in terms of the number of games played, is determined to end his first season as a pro on a high: “We need to show our strength as a team and pull together. That’s’ the only option.”

Bayern are in the hunt for three trophies this term, and the players are determined to present at least one to the Marienplatz crowd. “I’ve not been out and about in town much recently, so I’ve not had a chance to contemplate the view from the Town Hall balcony,” grinned Badstuber: “But I know exactly what I could expect.”