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Chairman’s fulsome praise

Cheery Xmas party after 'important' win

The festive season is upon us and the scent of mulled wine and roasted almonds is drifting across Christmas markets the length and breadth of Germany. The scene is at its most enchanting at dusk, when the lights take over from the grey day, but the Bayern stars have had little time to enjoy all of that – until Sunday afternoon, when the FCB family gathered at star chef  Alfons Schuhbeck’s teatro for the team Christmas party and a chance to reflect on “a very, very good year,” as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented.

In his ten-minute address, the club chairman thanked the coach and players for winning the double, and congratulated the Germany stars on their World Cup triumph. “It’s normally almost a given that we have problems after major tournaments,” continued Rummenigge, “and lots of people expected it again this season. But fortunately it’s turned out differently. Our performances and the work put in by the coaches is unbelievable.”

The players and their families arrived for the celebration at 2 pm. Alfons Schuhbeck and his team provided the nourishing fare, with acts including a balloon twister to amuse the large group of players’ children.

Surprise guest Daniel

The guests included Daniel van Buyten, sporting a fashionably short new haircut. Rummenigge publicly thanked the Belgian, who ended his career last summer after eight seasons in Munich. “I take my hat off to what you achieved for Bayern,” said Rummenigge, announcing an official farewell to Van Buyten at the Allianz Arena prior to this Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with CSKA Moscow.

It was a warm and congenial afternoon, due in large part to the previous evening’s 1-0 victory over Leverkusen. “It was a great game of football,” remarked Rummenigge. An 11th win in 14 league fixtures means Bayern maintain their seven-point lead over VfL Wolfsburg at the top of the standings. Leverkusen, one of the “most consistent teams,” as Thomas Müller noted, are now 13 points off the pace. “It was a very important win and points us in the right direction,” the striker summarised.

Bayern were severely hampered by Leverkusen’s high-octane pressing in the first half and failed to come up with a single shot at goal, but that was fortunately of no importance in the end. FCB stepped up a gear in the second half and Franck Ribéry volleyed the only goal of the game on 51 minutes. “The team deservedly came off the field as winners,” said Rummenigge. “We’re all thrilled by the players’ quality and determination. The last three or four years have been an unbelievable experience.”