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‘First-class football’

In-form Bayern turn focus to Roma

Pep Guardiola was out on the practice ground consulting his laptop, with the defenders spearheaded by Jérôme Boateng next to him. The group clustered together and, moving swiftly on from Saturday's emphatic 6–0 Bundesliga victory over Werder Bremen, turned their collective focus to next Tuesday's crucial Champions League trip away to Serie A’s second-placed club AS Roma.

“We were first class and it was a perfect warm-up for Roma,” summarised Manuel Neuer, who was not required to save a single shot on Saturday and has now not conceded in 748 minutes of play. At the start of the match, the keeper analysed, “Bremen tried to get at us in our own third. But we played the ball well out of defence, we were confident in possession and we went on to score our goals.”

The goals in question came from Philipp Lahm (20, 79), Xabi Alonso (27), Thomas Müller (43, pen) and Mario Götze (45, 86). “We deserved to lose by that margin,” acknowledged visiting boss Robin Dutt. Guardiola praised his men for their “good attitude, good positioning and good build-up play”. The league leaders were ultimately satisfied with another three points, especially as they travel to second-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach for next Sunday's top of the table clash. Before then, attention turns to the powerful team from the Italian capital.

On a knife-edge

Francesco Totti and Co comfortably beat Chievo Verona 3–0 in the Italian league on Saturday evening and will be confident ahead of the European showdown. “Winning at their place will be tough,” warned Neuer prior to his first game at Rome's iconic Olympic Stadium. “We'll need another strong defensive display,” the keeper continued. Müller thinks it will not be the kind of game “where the outcome is clear right from the start. It'll be on a knife edge.”

“We're looking for at least a point,” the Germany striker continued. If Bayern should win and move on to the maximum nine points from three matches “we'd be clearly the number one team in the group,” he added. Lahm, fresh from the first Bundesliga brace of his long career, urged his team-mates to remain alert: “We're in a superb position, but we certainly don't want to toss it away in Rome.”

The final pre-match training session is set for Monday morning in Munich, before the double winners set off for Italy in the early afternoon. Struggling Bremen were no match for FCB on the day, but the Reds know they will need a different calibre of performance against Roma. “And I think it's exactly the kind of game we need,” mused Arjen Robben, “we want to make progress.”