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Satisfying win

First step towards ‘perfect’ restart

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The question as to how well Bayern would come off the blocks after the mid-season break was conclusively answered on Friday evening. Following a month without a competitive fixture the Bundesliga leaders seamlessly picked up where they left off at the end of the most successful year in their history. And the victory away to Borussia Mönchengladbach was all the more creditable given the undoubted quality of the opposition.

“We played very well from start to finish,” enthused FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge following an authoritative display and 2-0 winning margin for Bayern, who slotted back into the groove straight from the off. “You never quite know whether you’ll still have your momentum after the break,” noted president Uli Hoeneß. However, even faced with Gladbach’s unbeaten home record up to Friday night, FCB had answers at the ready.

“We set our sights high and were determined to win,” commented Mario Götze, the false nine on this occasion. The Germany striker made an early contribution to the victory when he latched onto an excellent Thomas Müller centre and showed fine control to convert Bayern’s first league goal of the new year. Only seven minutes were on the Borussia Park clock at the time.

“We showed up from the start,” said captain Philipp Lahm, who made his 300th Bundesliga appearance in Mönchengladbach, “and that was very important. It’s always tough straight after the winter break.” It was a good win too, as Lahm was at pains to point out: “We’ve often struggled in Gladbach down the years.” The stats support the Germany man’s opinion: Bayern’s previous 23 visits to the Lower Rhine yielded just three wins.

One of the reasons that stat now looks a little better was Müller, provider for the opening goal and scorer of the second, a 53rd-minute penalty. “We scored the goals at exactly the right time,” observed Lahm, while in-form Manuel Neuer found satisfaction in a ”signal to ourselves, because we proved we’re capable of coming here and winning. We’re pleased with the first three points of the new year.“

Lahm: Our task in Stuttgart

“All credit to the team and the coach,” said Rummenigge approvingly, as Bayern extended their own Bundesliga record from the 1980s by going 27 away matches without defeat. Board director for sport Matthias Sammer said he was “really happy” with a “fantastic answer” to the upset last week in Salzburg, where FCB lost a warm-up match 3-0.

Lahm and Co have little time to bask in the victory over the team in third as the champions are on the road again this Wednesday, travelling to VfB Stuttgart for the fixture rearranged to accommodate the Club World Cup. “We can extend our lead,” remarked the captain, “and that’s the task set before us.” Should they win FCB would be a minimum of ten points clear of the team in second. “We’re aiming for a perfect start to the second half of the season,” summarised Lahm, “so the only acceptable result in Stuttgart is a win.”