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Many positives emerge from midweek win

Who’d have thought it? So many beaming faces, after a match that was a dead rubber for FC Bayern. But it’s true: the 3-0 victory over CSKA Moscow in the last fixture in the Champions League group stage on a cold December night really was good news for Bayern.

Pep Guardiola dished out compliments at the post-match press conference. “Everybody played well. Congratulations,” said the FCB head coach. FC Bayern took the game “very seriously” and Guardiola was “very proud” of the performances at the group stage: “We did an outstanding job. We were better than the opposition in every game.”

Fifteen points and 16 goals for with only four against equals the best group return in FCB’s history and is just one goal short of setting a club record. No German team has ever picked up as many points, and that in a group described as a “tough challenge” by Matthias Sammer when the draw was made. “It was a difficult group but we did well. Hats off to the team,” said Arjen Robben. “We’ve achieved our target but the big games will be in the New Year,” said Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Man of the Match Schweinsteiger

Arsenal, Juventus, PSG, Basel and Shakhtar Donetsk are the possible opponents for FCB in the Round of 16. The draw will be held on Monday. “PSG would be the hardest challenge,” said Manuel Neuer. “I don’t think anybody will want to play us,” said Schweinsteiger, a player who stood out on Wednesday night. “It was great fun. I think it’s been seven months since I started a game here at the Allianz Arena,” he reported after his first full 90 minutes of the current campaign. He touched the ball 156 times and was voted man-of-the-match.

“He has an incredible presence on the pitch,” said Sebastian Rode, who scored the second goal on 84 minutes with an assist from Schweinsteiger. It was Rode’s maiden goal in the Champions League. “It feels really good. It was all down to Basti, I only had to nod it in,” said the 24-year-old.

Thomas Müller could also be very satisfied with his performance. The World Cup winner opened the scoring from the penalty spot on 18 minutes to become the top FCB goalscorer in the Champions League. “It’s great for me,” declared the record marksman after notching his 24th Champions League goal, “it was my duty as far as I’m concerned. I’m going to try and bag a few more. I’ve still got a couple of seasons left in me.”

Rotation works out

Gianluca Gaudino and Mitchell Weiser, with their futures in front of them, made their Champions League debuts against CSKA, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg again clocked up more time on the pitch. The fact that the Reds dominated the game against the Russians (73 percent possession, 26 shots to 7, 21 crosses to 7) proves “that players who don’t get much time on the pitch can still do a great job in the Champions League,” declared Schweinsteiger.

Now it is back to the Bundesliga with three games to go until the winter break. Robben said Saturday’s match away to third-placed Augsburg will be more difficult than the CSKA game: “Augsburg are on a positive run and they’re a good team.” Mario Götze, scorer of the third goal against CSKA on 90 minutes, is expecting “a tight contest,” but isn’t worried. “We’re ready and able.”