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Accomplished Bayern primed for CSKA

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When the FCB stars returned to their Cologne city centre hotel after a successful afternoon out at the RheinEnergieStadion on Saturday, there was finally time to relax and reflect on two highly agreeable matters: the mighty river Rhine and the view of Cologne's famous cathedral on the one hand, and the Bundesliga table on the other. A fully merited 2–0 victory away to FC Köln means the champions have extended their lead at the top of the standings.

“We're delighted about winning here,” Manuel Neuer commented after a “not particularly easy” meeting with the promoted club, “they've defended very well in all their games so far.” Peter Stöger’s side had let in just one goal in five games prior to Saturday, “and they're difficult to score against.” For that reason, club captain Philipp Lahm was especially pleased that he and his men “settled very quickly and soon created clear-cut chances.”

Only 19 minutes had been played when Mario Götze opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season, although the lead was actually overdue at this point. “The early goal did us good,” said the 22-year-old, who like all his team-mates was lively and alert from the start. Thomas Müller (23), David Alaba (27) and Arjen Robben (32) could easily have doubled the advantage, but it was not to be. “We have to show more ruthlessness because we could have made it an even less eventful afternoon,” Götze admonished.

Rivals kept at arm’s length

The boisterous Bayern fans in the 50,000 capacity crowd saw their heroes experience only one real let-off, as Neuer produced world-class saves to deny Adam Matyschik and Anthony Ujah in quick succession after 34 minutes. “Manu was superb,” said Lahm, “but it shows you always have to be wide awake.” After witnessing a 50th victory in his 65th match at the FCB helm, Pep Guardiola echoed a similar sentiment: “If you let them get at you on the break the atmosphere in the stadium becomes explosive.”

However, Bayern basically dominated the full 90 minutes. “We kept it very tight at the back,” agreed Neuer, who was a virtual spectator in the second half as the outfield players patiently and carefully set about wrapping up the points. Eight of Bayern's 21 shots at goal came after half-time, although the one that counted was an own goal by Daniel Halfar (66), pressured into the error by the aggressive Alaba. “And after that we comfortably saw it through to the end,” the world's best goalkeeper Neuer remarked.

“The important thing as league leaders is to keep on winning,” said Lahm after the champions’ first away success of the new Bundesliga campaign, “it means you keep the other teams at arm’s length.” Combined with results elsewhere up and down the country, the win also means FCB stretched their advantage over new chief pursuers Mönchengladbach to two points. It is an agreeable situation for Bayern and their fans, and not just due to the imposing views across the teeming metropolis of Cologne.