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‘A job well done’

Hard-working FCB cement grip on top spot

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It’s been a highly satisfying week for Bayern with a trio of good victories: 3-0 in Dortmund, 3-1 in Moscow, and 2-0 at home to Braunschweig. Following the double away success in the Bundesliga showdown with BVB and against the Russian champions in the Champions League, the treble winners continued their winning form at home to the promoted club from Lower Saxony and cemented top spot in the domestic standings with their 28th victory of the 2013 calendar year.

“The team deserves praise for what they’re achieving,” declared board director for sport Matthias Sammer. It is all the more creditworthy when you consider the long injury list and the fact Pep Guardiola has had very little opportunity to rotate his squad due to the packed match schedule. Arjen Robben also feels the players deserved a lot of credit for recent success. “It’s not easy. We have a very difficult schedule, so we can definitely be satisfied.”

Guardiola pleased with the win

Against an ultra-defensive Braunschweig, the Dutch international was the man to make the difference. Robben had the majority of the 71,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena on their feet with the opening goal after only two minutes. He doubled his and his side’s tally after half an hour with a powerful shot from the edge of the box, basically wrapping up the points there and then. “He settled the match today,” Sammer confirmed afterwards.

“It was a complicated and difficult match. First because we’ve come from trips to Dortmund and Moscow, and second because it was the kind of game in which one team essentially never left their own half,” Guardiola summarised. The visitors dropped deep and parked the proverbial bus, “so finding space was hard,” continued the coach. “At the end of the day, I’m actually very pleased with our performance.”

A job well done

“The result was good today but it wasn’t necessarily easy,” agreed Thomas Müller, “but we’ve ultimately done a good job.” FCB finished a one-sided first half with 80 percent of the possession and 11 shots to their opponents’ none. The champions shifted down through the gears in the second half, “and I guess it’s understandable from a mental perspective,” mused Müller. “The second half was a bit dour, but you’ve got to allow the team that kind of thing sometimes,” added Sammer.

“We lost our way a bit in the second half and didn’t attack as aggressively,” lamented match-winner Robben, “our concentration dropped and we played some poor passes.” Manuel Neuer felt the below-par second period was understandable: “We’re men and not machines,” said the keeper. However, even though the bottom club showed more ambition after half-time they were unable to convert any of the handful of chances they created, meaning Neuer kept a clean sheet in the league for the eighth time this season.

Cup clash with Augsburg

FCB are back in action as soon as Wednesday with the DFB Cup last sixteen trip to FC Augsburg. “It’ll definitely be much harder than today,” said centre back Dante as he looked ahead to the win-or-bust tie. “We need to be completely focused because you always get surprises in the cup.” Naturally, the holders are determined to avoid any such upset. “We’ve played there in the cup before and it was a close-run thing,” said Neuer, recalling Bayern’s 2-0 victory over their Bavarian neighbours at the same stage last term. “We have to go into the game with the right attitude.”