Created on 06-04-2014 at 14:00 PM
“It doesn’t feel good right now,” summarised Thomas Müller in the mixed zone at Augsburg’s SGL Arena. Bayern were undefeated in 53 straight Bundesliga matches before the remarkable run came to an end away to Bavarian neighbours FCA by the only goal of the game on Saturday afternoon. Yes, Bayern have already won the league, and Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final return against Manchester United is a genuinely important match - but the reverse in Augsburg still took a little getting over.
“Obviously we were hoping to go home with a different result,” commented Manuel Neuer, who saved six shots for the first time this season but could do nothing about Sascha Mölders’ 31st-minute winner. Müller bemoaned the lack of a second-half equaliser which the visitors’ performance unquestionably deserved. “We’d like to have kept the run going. It would have been the icing on the cake.“
But at the end of the day the home side were left to celebrate. “We battled away and tried everything we could, but that’s football, that’s sport. You can’t always only win,” mused Pep Guardiola, who made a raft of changes to his team with United on the horizon. Talented trio Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Mitchell Weiser and Ylli Sallahi all made Bundesliga starting debuts – and all three did very well indeed. “They know how we play and they know what I want,” observed Guardiola, “the young players weren’t the reason we lost.”
United clash ‘is a final’
Augsburg were a couple of percent better on Saturday, continued the FCB coach. “They were clever. We accept that and now need to prepare for Manchester United as quickly as possible.“ For all the disappointment about a first league defeat of the campaign, “it mustn’t hold us up for long,” urged Müller, “we have to switch focus straight away.”
The Champions League showdown thus moves to centre stage. “It’s a final, a life or death match,” said Guardiola, who is expecting United to come to Munich and defend: “They’ll be looking to hit us on the break and at set plays.” Neuer agreed with the boss: “I’d be surprised by anything else. We need solutions to getting in behind their defence and creating chances.“
The remaining training sessions will be dedicated to finding those solutions. Guardiola will gather his men to start the process on Monday morning, although the squad will be without Xherdan Shaqiri after the Swiss star picked up a serious injury in Augsburg. Nevertheless the Bayern camp remains upbeat about Wednesday’s European clash, and the almost-forgotten feeling of losing in the Bundesliga will not change that. “We know what we’re capable of,” declared Neuer.