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Triumph for team spirit

FCB upbeat prior to Madrid trip

Eintracht Braunschweig scrapped and chased for a full 90 minutes, but there was pure respect and affection from the underdogs afterwards. At the post-match press conference, Eintracht boss Torsten Lieberknecht carefully read from a prepared text in Spanish. “Querido Pep,” (“Dear Pep“) he began, going on to wish Pep Guardiola “mucha suerte“ (“lots of luck”) for the forthcoming Champions League semi-final first leg away to Real Madrid. “Bravo!“ declared a surprised and amused Guardiola. It meant Bayern set off for home from Braunschweig with three precious things: fond words, a victory and a good feeling.

“I’m delighted and I’ve told my team I’m very proud of them,” reported Guardiola in the wake of a hard-earned 2–0 victory away to the Bundesliga’s bottom club. The FCB coach explicitly praised his players’ “team spirit”, after they had courageously joined battle with the relegation-threatened Lions. “We were prepared to fight today! That was the most important aspect for me,” the Spaniard stated.

“Braunschweig played with lots of heart, pride and passion,” noted Guardiola after the home team effectively neutralised their illustrious opponents for the first half. Furthermore, the pitch was not in a state to favour the champions’ normal short-passing game. “We didn’t produce footballing fireworks, but that was always going to be difficult against these opponents on this pitch,” commented Thomas Müller, although the striker was satisfied with the day’s work: “It was a good test for us, especially in terms of our fighting spirit.”

Primed for Madrid

Claudio Pizarro broke the deadlock 15 minutes from time and Mario Mandzukic wrapped it up with four minutes to go, as Bayern reaped the reward for a patient and increasingly dominant display. “We did very well, especially in the second half,” observed Philipp Lahm, noting the importance of winning four days before travelling to face Real. “It’s important we set off for home feeling good, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.“

Guardiola has described the Madrid giants as “one of the best teams in the world,” and Bayern are looking forward to the crunch meeting with a keen sense of anticipation. Lahm thinks the fixture is “a dream,” and the Estadio Bernabéu, venue for Wednesday’s match, as “sensational. I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll see two massive games.“ The FCB captain is cautious but confident: “On Wednesday we’ll show we’re always up for it in the important games. But it’s still 50-50.“ Just like Munich fans everywhere, Saturday’s opponents Braunschweig are hoping the Reds prevail.