presented by
'Everything to play for'

Proud FCB leave Madrid in fighting mood

Three cheers for Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben and Pep Guardiola. The reception at the post-match banquet in Madrid provided a boost for Bayern on the Iberian peninsula. Friends, family, VIP guests and sponsors greeted each and every player, plus the head coach, with a round of applause. That was in spite of a 1-0 defeat in the Champions League semi-final first leg - a result that has roused Bayern’s determination to get the right result in next Tuesday’s return match at the Allianz Arena.

“Obviously, the 1-0 defeat isn’t the result we wanted but I’m a very long way from saying we’re not in a position to put it right,” declared Karl-Heinz Rummenigge when he rose to speak at a minute after midnight. His speech at the banquet was directed straight at the players: “Don’t be down-hearted lads! Defeats are never good, and we shouldn’t play it down. But a defeat is always as valuable as the way you react - and you’ll show the right reaction next Tuesday.”

FCB dominate proceedings

There was no sign of gloom and despondency among the 430 guests at the banquet including FCB vice-president Karl Hopfner, Dr. Edmund Stoiber or weightlifter and Olympic gold medalist Matthias Steiner. Accompanied by cod, duck and seafood paella, discussion focused on the “incredibly interesting, emotional and very intense Champions League match” (Rummenigge). “I don’t believe any Bayern team has ever dominated Real Madrid as much at the Bernabéu,” said Matthias Sammer.

Guardiola was “very, very proud” of his players. “We played very well with great determination. Most teams are afraid when they play at the Bernabéu, but we weren’t afraid at all.” 64 percent possession, 16 to 9 shots on goal, 31 to 13 crosses, 15 to 3 corners - the stats reflect the dominance of FCB over the course of 90 minutes. But the scoreboard read: Real Madrid 1 - Bayern Munich 0.

'Only thing missing was a goal'

“We tried everything. The only thing missing was a goal,” said Robben. Manuel Neuer bemoaned “the daft result” in Madrid. Bayern controlled the game but “the final ball, the final cross and the final move” (Guardiola) were not accurate enough. Real were merciless on the break with Karim Benzema netting the winner on 19 minutes. “Real Madrid are the best counter-attacking side in the world. They are difficult to control,” added Guardiola. That was evident with the goal: “You lose possession and the ball is in the back of the net after two or three passes. They’re an incredibly dangerous team,” Robben noted.

Guardiola’s men will have to be on top of their game for the return leg if they are to get a grip on the Real team spearheaded by World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo. “We need the killer punch,” reflected Sammer. With the backing of the fans at the Allianz Arena, Bayern are convinced they can turn the result round. “There’s everything to play for,” said Neuer, “and we want to do it together with our fans.”

'It’ll be a cracker'

“Heads up,” declared Robben, “let’s keep calm and be positive. That’s what we said in the dressing room. You could feel everybody knows it’s possible.” Müller said: “We haven’t lost yet. We can definitely come back from a goal down.” And Lahm said: “We have the quality to win by two goals at home.”

Rummenigge also shared that view: “I was in the VIP stand after the game and I didn’t get the impression the Real Madrid management were happy with the result. They know what to expect in Munich. We’ll show them the quality of Bayern Munich at home and it will be like a cauldron.” Next Tuesday’s game in Munich “will be a cracker!” The audience showed its approval with a loud round of applause.