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Fast starters

World Cup stars lead from the front

More than half the players in the Bayern starting line-up for the Bundesliga season opener had only been back in training for 16 days, but it made precious little difference to their performance. For Friday’s meeting with Wolfsburg Pep Guardiola fielded four of his World Cup winners (Neuer, Lahm, Müller, Götze) and the two semi-finalists (Robben, Dante), a gamble that paid off in spades. “Astonishing,” said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, reflecting on the commitment and energy shown by all six players. “After watching Arjen Robben or Thomas Müller today, I have to say all credit to them for that!”

Not for the first time Robben and Müller supplied the decisive impulse to Bayern's attacking play. Robben sprinted 39 times and Müller 38, the best figures of all the players on the field. Robben also sent over the most crosses (5), Müller contested the most challenges (25), and both topped the ranking for shots at goal (Robben with five, Müller on four). And it almost goes without saying that both contributed goals as well.

Müller started it off by converting Robben's 37th-minute centre, before the Dutchman netted a fine solo effort two minutes after the restart. Arjen himself admitted he was taken slightly by surprise by the energy of his own display. “A 90 minute appearance straight after the summer, and it was surprisingly good,” reflected the Dutchman, whose playing time in the briefest of brief pre-seasons amounted to the last four minutes of the MLS All-Star game in Portland. “I thought I'd be exhausted after 20 or 30 minutes, but somehow I got second wind.”

Still short of 100 percent

“He's an unbelievable pro,” commented a less surprised Matthias Sammer. “In training you can see he's already in exceptional shape. And he's learned something important over the last couple of years: a slightly more relaxed approach, remaining focused but taking a breather from time to time.”

Naturally, even Robben is some way off peak fitness yet. “You could see we ran out of steam at some point,” noted Philipp Lahm, “we're feeling good but we're not yet 100 percent there.” The FCB captain, who hoisted the World Cup into the skies over the Maracanã just 40 days earlier, feels he can explain the remarkably good season opener: “We've basically not had a break. In reality, we've just kept on playing.”