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Reunion in Stuttgart

Lahm: We must take this huge chance

It was pelting with sleet in Munich on Monday but Pep Guardiola still had his men sweating with a vigourous workout involving passing, sprinting towards goal, shooting, spinning on the spot, sprinting back to the start point and doing it all again. Numbers for the session were good, with only four players not part of squad training: Daniel van Buyten and Javi Martínez completed individual routines on an adjacent pitch, while Bastian Schweinsteiger and Holger Badstuber continued sports rehab programs.

As always one of the most motivated men during the punishing main session was Philipp Lahm. The captain was a mainstay of the side that beat Gladbach in the restart fixture last Friday, and he offered his own analysis of the game when he spoke to the press at lunchtime. “Our opponents obviously knew we were wide-awake and aggressive, focusing hard on our football. That was the key to our success,” said Lahm, “it was good we started against one of the better teams. We were all up for it and knew what was at stake.“ The result was especially good “because we’ve often found it very tough in Gladbach.”

Captain’s words of warning

Quite apart from the welcome three points, Lahm passed a significant personal milestone at Borussia Park, as the 30-year-old made his 300th Bundesliga appearance, his 247th for Bayern. “I actually knew nothing about this until two days before the match,” admitted Lahm, who was in any case keen to discuss the next challenge. Bayern visit Stuttgart on Wednesday in the fixture rearranged to accommodate the Club World Cup, and the defending champions are determined to take another stride towards retaining their domestic title.

The match is a trip down memory lane for Lahm as he clocked up his first Bundesliga appearances with VfB between 2003 and 2005. “It’s a little bit different compared to any other match because I lived there for two years,” he remarked, “although there’s no-one left there who I played with apart from Cacau and Christian Gentner.” However, current VfB coach Thomas Schneider is a former Stuttgart player, “and I even trained with him in 2003,” Lahm revealed. “I reckon he’s a good coach.“

After speaking about his own time with VfB, the Bayern captain talked about the situation in the Bundesliga table. FCB hold a ten point lead, “but it could conceivably have shrunk to four points if we’d lost and Leverkusen had won,” Lahm admonished, “we all know how quickly things can change.” However, the situation as it is offers FCB “a huge chance to extend our lead to 13 points.“ Lahm and Co are determined to seize that opportunity.