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Fifth at the midpoint

FCB's new year target: second – or better

With a memorable 87th South German derby but a few minutes old, Louis van Gaal was to be seen in the depths of the Mercedes-Benz-Arena, examining a TV monitor. The Bayern boss studied the screen for no more than 45 seconds, taking in and assessing the final Bundesliga standings at the midpoint of the campaign - and doubtless already mentally sketching out a battle plan for the remaining 17 games.

After a difficult first half of the season, affected by the fall-out from the summer World Cup and an appalling run of injuries which saw up to ten FCB men sidelined at the same time, the champions lie fifth in the standings at the halfway mark. Thanks to Sunday's 5-3 victory away to VfB Stuttgart, Van Gaal’s men have cut the gap between themselves and second place to four points, with leaders Borussia Dortmund now 14 points clear of the champions.