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Bremen despatched

Plenty of positives from Real warm-up

The mood at the Allianz Arena on Saturday afternoon crackled with enthusiasm and excitement. “Stand up for Bayern,” the crowd chanted. The fans on the south and north terraces sang their hearts out, the thousands in the seats clapped their hands. There was no mistaking just how much the supporters and players are looking forward to the Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid - and Bayern’s 5–2 victory over Werder Bremen was a near-perfect way to warm up.

“It was important we came away with a positive feeling, and we’ve definitely done that,” commented captain Philipp Lahm. The champions trailed 2–1 at the break after a patchy first-half performance but a dramatically improved second-half display brought a thrilling turnaround. “We’ve scored five goals, we were always on the move and we had bags of passion. That was good! We need to focus on the positives,” remarked Arjen Robben.

The Dutchman rounded off the scoring with a trademark solo effort less than 40 seconds after coming on as a 74th-minute substitute. Franck Ribéry (20), Claudio Pizarro (53, 57) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (61) had earlier added their names to the scoresheet. Bremen’s half-time lead came courtesy of Theodor Gebre Selassie (10) and Aaron Hunt (36).

The goals against left a bitter taste in the FCB camp. “We wanted to stop their counter-attacks, but yet again we ended up with two against three at the back,” fumed Jérôme Boateng. “We have to work together better in these situations on Tuesday. We weren’t good in the first half.“ Coach Pep Guardiola could only agree, describing the first 45 minutes as “disappointing. But fortunately it was better in the second half.“

Happy Pizarro

Bayern were a team transformed after the restart and showed all the quality that has characterised a breathtaking season. Three goals in the space of nine minutes ultimately sealed the outcome, as Pizarro crowned an excellent display with a brace. “I’m always delighted when I get to play and score goals, especially against my former club,” said the in-form Peruvian who has had a hand in six of Bayern’s last eight goals (four goals, two assists).

Schweinsteiger’s powerful header and Robben’s left-foot drive finally put paid to Bremen’s resistance. The men in red were clearly enjoying their football and the mood at the stadium was correspondingly upbeat. Warm applause accompanied the players back to the dressing room. “We’re ready for the return against Real,” declared Pizarro. So, it seems, is everyone connected with the club.

“We need to make sure we release all our positive energy now,” urged Thomas Müller, “I hope we can build up a really terrific atmosphere by Tuesday.” With the help of the loyal fans Bayern are now utterly determined to make the Champions League final for the third time in a row. “We totally believe we can do it,” said Boateng. The last word fell to Guardiola: “I have total faith in my team. We can do it if we all pull together.”