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'We stood up to them'

Guardiola’s Bayern can fight too

Thomas Müller did not pull any punches. Who has to be the first in the middle in a four against one? “The youngest,” declared Müller on Sunday afternoon even though David Alaba was not entirely happy with the tradition practised throughout the whole of the football world. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t me who thought it up,” said Müller before grinning when Alaba grudgingly joined in.

Müller and his Bayern team-mates met much sterner resistance the day before. FCB put in a full shift to win the 188th all-Bavarian derby at FC Nürnberg. “You can see why we have to work hard year after year when we come here,” said Müller, taking a deep breath after the 2-0 victory to make it twelve Bundesliga wins on the trot, “Nürnberg put in a tremendous effort.”

50,000 fans turned the Grundig Stadium into a lion’s den, the pitch was in a “terrible” state according to Matthias Sammer, and the hosts proved to be a handful for Bayern. “I’ve rarely seen a team play with such commitment as Nürnberg. They were aggressive but fair,” aclnowledged Sammer, “it was a really tough game. I’m happy we stood up to them. Congratulations to our team.” 

'Luck and a good man at the back’

Pep Guardiola also congratulated his players after the final whistle. “It was difficult to play well on that pitch, above all for our short passing game. Our attitude was incredible,” said the FCB head coach after an impressively combative display. “We went in for the challenges and stood up to them,” ventured Arjen Robben, “if it gets a bit tricky we’ve got to fight and work hard. Today we showed we can come out on top in difficult games.”

Nürnberg caused the league leaders real problems in the early stages of the game. “We were lucky early on and we had a good man at the back,” said Müller in reference to two early saves by Manuel Neuer, with the crossbar coming to the Reds’ rescue on four minutes. Bayern gradually gained control and took the lead through Mario Mandzukic on 18 minutes. Philipp Lahm made it 2-0 four minutes after the restart to put FCB on course for three points. Bayern kept it very tight at the back in the second 45 minutes.

“We dominated play in the second half and we didn’t give anything away. We won comfortably in the end,” said Robben, also taking account of the three shots that hit the woodwork and prevented a victory by an even greater margin. “It was a very difficult game but we played really well,” said Guardiola, adding he was “very, very, very happy.” Müller shared that view: “We’re happy we’ve picked up three points here.”