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Confident of semis

FCB buoyed by good reaction and away goal

Judging the mood at the traditional post-match banquet at the Marriot Worsley Park team hotel proved difficult. Was satisfaction and pleasure the right response to a 1-1 draw in the Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Manchester United? Or should there be a degree of frustration at not coming away with an even better result from the meeting with the defensive and destructive English champions to take into next Wednesday’s return? Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge offered his take on an always absorbing encounter in the white-hot atmosphere at Old Trafford: “We’ve not won, but we’re still very pleased. I’m confident we can do it in the return. I think 1-1 is a magnificent result.”

Especially as Bayern were forced to come from behind after Nemanja Vidic shocked the dominant visitors with the 58th-minute opener. Bastian Schweinsteiger confirmed his current rich vein of form with an artistic finish for the 67th-minute equaliser, representing the precious away goal FCB had been seeking. “The team reacted very well to going a goal behind. All credit to them for that,” commented Matthias Sammer.

United park the bus at home

Pep Guardiola joined in the congratulations for his team. “Manchester United are one of the best teams in the world. Let’s never forget that. It was clear to me we wouldn’t win the tie here in Manchester.” Guardiola thinks the Allianz Arena crowd can play a vital role in the return. “I have complete faith in my players and hope the fans in Munich support us the same way United’s supporters got behind their team today.”

Every last-ditch tackle, every header and every hoofed clearance “was greeted with loud applause,” noted Arjen Robben. The crowd played their part in inspiring the Red Devils to withstand a ceaseless Bayern onslaught: Munich finished with 75 percent of the possession and 16 shots to their opponents’ six. “They pulled everyone back,” noted Thomas Müller, “in the first half it resembled a game of handball.”

The extra two to three percent

“It’s never easy against teams who pack the defence. We’ll try and find solutions to that in Munich,” commented Guardiola. Board member for sport Sammer felt his opinion of United as “extremely dangerous opponents” had been confirmed. “They’re trying to beat us using the weapons they have. They made life very difficult for us tonight.”

However, a goalless draw or a win of any sort will now be enough to put FCB through to the semi-finals. “It’s in our own hands,” observed Manuel Neuer, who brilliantly saved Danny Welbeck’s one-on-one effort after 40 minutes but was powerless to prevent Vidic opening the scoring. Müller said he was “confident for the return. It’ll be an interesting game.”

Bayern will have to compensate for the absence with suspension of Schweinsteiger, who was sent off in the last minute for a second bookable offence, and Javi Martínez, who saw a third yellow card of the competition. Both players will be sorely missed, but Robben feels their absence could be an extra motivating factor. “We owe the pair of them a top performance, so they can be part of it again in the semis.” Sammer is similarly confident the awkward hurdle presented by United can be overcome, “provided we find an extra two or three percent.”