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One last task

FCB fired up for 'unique opportunity'

With beautiful seaside views, beaches galore and plenty of sunshine, Morocco offers a perfect opportunity to escape the German winter and enjoy a quiet break. However, Bayern are in no mood for the holiday season, as they showed on Tuesday evening by beating Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup. Winning the final on Saturday in Marrakech would crown an already incredible year. It would also officially hand Bayern the label of “best team in the world” and as Toni Kroos said: “That's not a bad title to have.”

However, the final has to be won first, although Bayern supporters can be justifiably optimistic after the way Pep Guardiola’s team played against the Asian Champions League winners. “I’m very happy,” Guardiola explained. “We focused very well, controlled the game throughout and barely gave them any chances,” added sporting director Matthias Sammer, clearly happy that the team showed no signs of weakness.

The Chinese champions under Marcello Lippi’s command put up a strong fight, especially in the first 15 minutes. However, the well-oiled attacking machine from Germany started to fire up from then onwards. Franck Ribéry (41) laid the foundation for FCB to reach the final, before receiving a standing ovation once he was substituted in the second half. Team Mario followed up soon after: Mandzukic (44) and Götze (47) secured the victory. The men from Munich also contrived to hit the bar or post five times in total.

Praise from Lippi

“It was just a matter of time until we started scoring,” Kroos analysed. “We closed out the game very well,” Philipp Lahm said. The captain particularly liked the treble winners’ attitude: “We focused hard on the game, which was the main reason for our success.” At the end of the day, Bayern could have won by more, as the Chinese team looked outclassed against the pacey Germans. World Cup winning coach Lippi admitted: “We were powerless to stop a superior team. The difference between the best team in the world and the others is very obvious.”

One game stands between Bayern and actually claiming the “prestigious title” (Guardiola). “It's a unique opportunity,” the Bayern coach said, “this final is for Jupp and his team.” The feeling of climbing to the top of the world is something Claudio Pizarro already knows: after Bayern won the Champions League in 2001, Pizza was in the team that went on to beat Boca Juniors in Tokyo, winning the equivalent of the Club World Cup at the time.

“It was my first trophy as a Bayern player,” the Peruvian recalled. “It was a fantastic game. Sammy Kuffour scored the deciding goal.” The atmosphere was magnificent, the beaming Pizarro said as he relived his happy memories. Now, twelve years later, Pizarro is aiming for the trophy once again. In the last game of 2013, Bayern will ignore their tired legs and run as if their lives depended on it. “Everybody wants to win this title,” concluded Lahm. “Only then can we go into the holidays with a clear conscience.”