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Bayern ready for Arsenal mission

Nineteen wins, two draws, 57 goals for and nine against, top spot in the Bundesliga with a 16-point lead after 21 games; six wins in the league and DFB Cup and 20 goals for and one against since the winter break – the FCB record could hardly be better ahead of the first leg of the Champions League Round of Sixteen tie. “I'm very, very happy up to now,” said Pep Guardiola, taking the opportunity to present an extremely positive mid-term report after this weekend's 4-0 victory over SC Freiburg, Munich’s 13th Bundesliga win in succession. “It obviously wasn't an outstanding game today. But these players are incredible. They always play to win, work hard and they always try to dominate games. Hats off to the lads!”

The players are also aware these are special times at Bayern. “It's impressive. We just keep on playing as we have done,” declared a sanguine Thomas Müller, “we're always hungry for success when we go on the pitch and we have fun.” The Bayern juggernaut rolls on and on, even when Guardiola rotates his squad as he did against Freiburg. “The coach made five changes and all of them played brilliantly,” said Dante, “that's our strength, we've got a great squad.”

The central defender, or the “tin opener” as Müller calls him, opened the scoring on 19 minutes with his third headed goal in 14 days against a resolute Freiburg side. Xherdan Shaqiri netted twice (34, 42) before being substituted due to a muscle problem, and Claudio Pizarro scored the fourth on 88 minutes. “I'm happy because I know how difficult it is to play against Freiburg,” said Guardiola before adding: “Three more points, one game less. We're a bit closer to defending the title.”

'Great anticipation, high motivation'

Bayern are quick to put the situation in the league to one side even though it improved further with Leverkusen losing 2-1 at home to Schalke. As soon as the game ended, attention turned to Wednesday's Champions League away game at Arsenal. “There's great anticipation and high motivation,” said Manuel Neuer, “it’ll be an evenly-matched game.”

The used and unused subs completed a short training session at the Allianz Arena straight after the Freiburg match. Guardiola gave his players Sunday off. “They need to clear their heads,” explained the FCB head coach who has the highest respect for the forthcoming opposition: “Arsenal are a top, top side. We know we'll have to play better than we did today.”

“We'll give 100 percent,” promised Thomas Müller ahead of the clash with the team lying second in the Premier League. “It’ll be a tough game in London. We know we've got to go right to the pain barrier,” said the Germany international who, along with his team-mates, senses they are ready for the task ahead: “We're off to London feeling good and with a great run under our belts. There's no reason why that should end against Arsenal.”

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