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‘Comfortable’ victory

FCB building towards peak form

Bayern made a successful start to the traditionally busy early autumn period thanks to what Philipp Lahm described as a “composed" and ultimately routine 2–0 home victory over South German rivals VfB Stuttgart. It means FCB remain unbeaten three games into the new league season and have boosted their confidence prior to the tough Champions League opener against English champions Manchester City on Wednesday.

“I think it was a decent game,” club captain Lahm said after the contest in front of the customary 71,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena. “Taking the 90 minutes as a whole we had the better chances and we opened the scoring at the right time. It was a comfortable victory.” Birthday boy Thomas Müller agreed: “The day went well and we could have won by more. It wasn't a rout but it was a very comfortable win.”

Coming up inches short

In the light of a difficult pre-season and a long injury roster, it was only to be expected that Munich would have to feel their way into the season, although the Reds were definitely better compared to the 1–1 draw away to Schalke two weeks ago as they beat VfB for the 12th time on the bounce. “We've had our problems in the second half recently but it was better this time,” Müller reasoned.

Once Mario Götze had netted the 27th-minute opener, Pep Guardiola’s team controlled the match but failed to double their advantage. “I think once again we may have lacked the final ball and decisive pass to create clear-cut chances,” Lahm said. “We've been a bit unlucky in front of goal. We've often come up inches short,” added Müller. Sub Franck Ribéry, making his first appearance after a four-month lay-off, finally wrapped up the points five minutes from time.

Ribéry glad to be back

“It's always great to get back out onto the pitch. It's been a long wait. I’m delighted to be back on the team,” said the Frenchman, who last appeared for his club in the DFB Cup final on 17 May. “Naturally I'm not at 100 percent yet,” continued the 31-year-old, although his 22-minute comeback included plenty of tasty moments. “We need Franck. I know how much he matters to us. We nearly really need his talent in the one-on-one situations,” Guardiola remarked.

“We know he's a class act and he showed it again today. There's nothing left to say about Franck because we've known him for years. He’s an outstanding footballer,” added Lahm. Ribéry's return is great news, but there was another injury blow on Saturday as Holger Badstuber was forced out of the action shortly before half-time and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future with what proved to be a ruptured tendon.

Alonso the midfield maestro

Fortunately for Munich, the late foray into the summer transfer market that brought Xabi Alonso to the club increasingly looks like a masterstroke. The Spaniard was an imposing presence against VfB and played the ball an extraordinary 150 times. His home debut almost brought his maiden Bundesliga goal, but his deflected 72nd-minute shot came back off the crossbar.

“I enjoyed playing in front of the Munich crowd,” reflected Alonso, although he felt the victory over VfB had been “laboured. But overall I'm pleased.” So was Guardiola, who is aware of the significant role his fellow countryman can fill: “Our build-up play is much better with Xabi Alonso. He knows his job in that position. He knows when to play it short or long, and he defends intelligently.” FCB will be looking to the veteran for more of the same on Wednesday night.