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Praise for fighting spirit

FCB delighted with successful start

Despite a lengthy injury roster and a difficult summer, champions Bayern made a fine start to the new Bundesliga campaign with Friday's narrow but fully deserved 2–1 victory over Wolfsburg in the official opening match of the new season. Just 40 days after the World Cup final the men in red played hugely promising football at times as FCB extended their excellent record of seven season openers without defeat since 2002 (six wins, one draw).

“It could have ended 4–1, 5–2 or something else instead. It was a good, intense match and a great advertisement for the Bundesliga both at home and abroad,” summarised chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge afterwards. “As I said beforehand: I'm not worried about this season. I think it'll be a good season and a very emotional Bundesliga campaign. The fans in Germany must be looking forward to it.”

Tense finish

The FCB fans in the 71,000 sell-out crowd at the Allianz Arena were naturally delighted with their team’s first victory of term, achieved with World Cup semi-finalists Arjen Robben and Dante and four German world champions in the starting line-up. Thomas Müller (37) and Robben (47) handed the home team a two-goal cushion, but ex-Munich man Ivica Olic cut the arrears on 52 minutes to set up a thrilling finish.

“Overall we can be pleased and it's a good result,” Müller summed up afterwards. “We were very decent for long spells and we passed well. Naturally there were times when we wanted it to go differently, and stupidly enough it was a bit tense towards the end.” However, in the frantic closing stages FCB “dug deep and saw it through to the end. We're not only capable of good football, we can fight too,” Müller declared.

Convincing debut for Gaudino

“A first match like that is always a bit odd, especially because pre-season was far from ideal. You just have to see a game like that through to the end and take the three points, and that's what we've done,” reasoned Bayern's other goalscorer, although Robben knows hard work lies ahead: “We have plenty of room for improvement.” Philipp Lahm noticed that the World Cup participants “ran out of steam towards the end” due to their brief time back in training. The captain only had one critical comment: “We failed to wrap it up after going two goals up. You can see we're not at 100 percent yet, but that's normal.”

But all in all it was a successful start to the season and a merited victory. “It wouldn't have been right if it had ended in a draw. The team did superbly and also played some fantastic football at times,” commented Rummenigge. The players brought in to deputise for the likes of Schweinsteiger, Ribéry, Thiago and company performed with distinction, especially 17-year-old Bundesliga debutant Gianluca Gaudino, whose remarkable display oozed maturity and class. “You have to feel a sense of pride," Rummenigge said admiringly, “and the lad can be very proud of his performance.”

Matthias Sammer joined in the chorus of praise for the young newcomer. “Gianluca has something that’s very difficult to learn: he simply plays really good football at a very high level.” Bayern can now take “the confidence from this victory into a full week of training” in preparation for next week's trip to Schalke, Sammer concluded. “We've won today and it was important. We'll really go for it now.”