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‘Not the end of the world’

FCB learn lessons and move on

Bayern sealed the Bundesliga title three matches ago, but there was no hiding the players’ bitter disappointment at the end of Saturday’s 3–0 home defeat to second-placed Borussia Dortmund, the first time FCB have lost in the league in front of their Allianz Arena crowd this season. The result spelled the end of an 18-month undefeated run at home in the Bundesliga, so the fact the players traipsed largely wordlessly away from the stadium afterwards came as no surprise.

“We were obviously hoping for a totally different performance in front of our own fans,” ventured Thomas Müller, crisply summing up the top-of-the-table clash. Three days after the energy-sapping but victorious Champions League meeting with Manchester United on the same ground, Müller felt “a few things failed to gel today. As a team, we weren’t as fresh and hungry as we should be and want to be.” The striker pulled no punches following a second league defeat on the bounce: “There have been times this season when we’ve been in much better shape.”

A yard short on the day

“It’s a very disappointing result, no question about that,” agreed Bayern board member for sport Matthias Sammer. “We were unable to maintain our concentration at 100 percent from the start against top-class opponents. We weren’t focused enough in the decisive phases of the game. We rather handed it to Dortmund on a plate,” he continued, although the former BVB coach felt the situation was understandable given the background to the match: “The players aren’t robots or machines. We’re champions and the league is done and dusted, so it’s not the end of the world.“

The 71,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan (20), Marco Reus (49) and Jonas Hofmann (56) score for the visitors, who looked fresher than the home team. BVB played their Champions League quarter-final return against Real Madrid on Tuesday, “and although we can’t use that as an excuse, it does make a difference whether you play on Tuesday or Wednesday,” observed FCB captain Philipp Lahm. “We kept oncoming up a yard short today, and you’ll never beat a good team if that happens.“

Immediate reaction required

Rubbing salt into the wound, FCB also lost right-back Rafinha to a stoppage-time red card. “We were obviously looking for a different result, but we simply had a bad day at the office. I think we have different and more important challenges, but we can’t just give up on the Bundesliga,” summarised keeper Manuel Neuer, who failed to appear after half-time with a minor injury. Neuer himself said the problem will not cause him to miss Wednesday’s DFB Cup semi-final at home to Kaiserslautern. 

Pep Guardiola made no secret of his dismay in the wake of Saturday’s match. “We’ve lost our rhythm,” acknowledged the 43-year-old Spaniard. Guardiola knows he has work to do with the cup and Champions League looming large on the horizon. “My goal as coach is to help the team pick themselves up. We need an immediate reaction,” Guardiola declared. “I need to find a way to help us recover our rhythm ready for the challenges that lie ahead.”

Back to the real Bayern

The task for now is to swiftly analyse and move on from the Dortmund match and focus completely on the cup clash with second division Kaiserslautern. “We need to learn our lessons and talk a few things over. We get back to work on Monday with our focus on the future,” said Sammer, “we want to see the real Bayern Munich again. We need much better performances than today’s.“ If so, the champions will be confident of booking a place in the cup final on 17 May in Berlin.