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Bundesliga in focus

FCB proud of rapid-fire group triumph

After winning their first four matches in this season’s Champions League, Bayern are already confirmed as winners of Group E at an earlier stage than even the 2013 champions of Europe have ever previously achieved. Even more remarkably, the new speed record was set in a proverbial Group of Death also including Manchester City, AS Roma and CSKA Moscow. The FCB camp was understandably happy following Wednesday’s assured 2-0 home win against the Serie A giants, which also sealed the Reds’ place in the Round of 16 for the seventh consecutive season.

“We’re through after four matches – I didn’t expect that,” admitted a visibly surprised Pep Guardiola, whose men became the first German team ever to win a Champions League group in what is mathematically the shortest possible time. “It’s absolutely top-class,” said captain Philipp Lahm, “simply running away with a group like this isn’t something you can ever take for granted.” Jérôme Boateng also felt the double-quick qualification for the first knockout round was “a fine thing”.

In the event, the points Bayern required to wrap up top spot in the group were hard-earned. “Roma learned from the first leg,” Lahm commented respectfully, “we didn’t find it easy to create chances.” FCB delivered a total of seven shots at goal in the first half: Franck Ribéry (38) opened the scoring with the seventh of them. “The opening goal was important. It’s why our play looked better in the second half,” said Lahm.

Lahm: We don’t lead by much

“Franck’s goal was crucial. We found more space after that and we made more chances,” added Götze, whose personal performance picked up after half time and whose 64th-minute goal effectively sealed the three points and the group win. “We can take a certain amount of pride in what we’ve achieved,” observed Götze, “the remaining games will be easier now we have 12 points in the bag.”

However, FCB will in all likelihood have to contest their next few matches without David Alaba. The newly-crowned Austrian Sports Personality of the Year 2014 limped off after 81 minutes of the Roma clash with a ligament injury. “We’re losing a super character and an outstanding footballer. His flexibility is very important to our game,” lamented Guardiola, “I hope he’ll be back straight after Christmas.”

In the meantime, Bayern will be looking to strengthen their position in the Bundesliga. “We have no cup game until early March, and no must-win Champions League match until late February,” Lahm pointed out. “The next few months are all about the league, which we lead, but not by much.” Ribery agreed: “We have to go for it now,” he said with an eye on Saturday’s trip to Eintracht Frankfurt. Boateng is hungry for more points: “We want to win again before the international break!”

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