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Praise from all sides

FCB keen to kick on after gala in Bremen

It was the club’s annual Christmas party on Sunday afternoon, an occasion for happiness, pleasure and anticipation – exactly the emotions that have dominated an extraordinary calendar year for the treble winners. The men from Munich added another touch of gloss to an already glittering year with a gala 7–0 victory away to outclassed Bremen on Saturday. “We’re on an unbelievable run,” declared Uli Hoeneß, “as a Bayern fan and as club president, you just sit back and enjoy it.“

Sunday finally handed the playing and coaching staff with an opportunity to sit back and relax in the company of their families. A series of quality acts provided the entertainment, and famous chef Alfons Schuhbeck laid on his usual superb food. In the long history of the club there cannot have been a Christmas party with so many reasons to raise a celebratory glass. The trophy haul is already up to four, Bayern lead the league again, and records are tumbling with every passing match.

In the Bundesliga Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer & Co. have gone 40 matches and 26 away games without defeat; FCB have scored at least once in their last 52 fixtures; the calendar year has provided 90 points so far, with 41 after just 15 matches of the current season; and Pep Guardiola is undefeated in his first 15 games as head coach. In the Champions League, FCB have won their last ten straight matches. All these are records!

“It’s simply world class,” reflected Hoeneß, “we’re obviously enthusiastic and enjoying it, and brimming with confidence.“ The club president gushed with praise for Guardiola: “He’s succeeded in forming a team from 20 individuals, and he’s keeping them so happy and fit that every single one plays well when called upon. This is the hallmark of a great coach – and we have a great coach.“

Pep ‘honoured’

Guardiola himself feels the credit belongs elsewhere. “The club brought this team together. And the coach is good when he has good players,” said the Spaniard, thanking his men for a superb display in Bremen: “I’m honoured to be coach here today. It was always going to be tough after Augsburg [in the cup]. I’m delighted with a game at such a high level. Our positioning was good for the first time this season.“

“The coach refuses to let up because he wants us to keep getting better,” revealed Jérôme Boateng. The effort on the training ground resulted in the biggest win of the season so far in Bremen. “We were totally focused from the start and never faded,” continued Boateng, “and that’s when you get a result like that because we got on a roll.” Bayern’s opponents accepted the truth of the situation. Werder skipper Clemens Fritz felt there was “a gulf in class.” Eljero Elia agreed: “They’re the best team in the world in my opinion.”

Kind words, but there is precious little time to enjoy them because first place in Champions League Group D is at stake when Manchester City visit Munich on Tuesday. Guardiola’s men aim to seal top spot in the Bundesliga at Christmas by beating Hamburg at home on Saturday. And then the focus turns to the Club World Cup. “We’re all happy and enjoying it,” said Franck Ribéry, but the European Footballer of the Year ended with an important rallying call: “We have to keep going just the same way.”