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‘Not a catastrophe'

FCB vow to 'learn lessons' from defeat

The FC Bayern players, coaches and officials left the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg late on Friday evening with their heads bowed and disappointment etched on their features. The nation’s most successful club visited Lower Saxony with high hopes of a rousing start to the second half of the Bundesliga campaign, but were instead beaten 4-1 by their closest pursuers in the table, who inflicted a first league defeat of the season on the men in red.

“It wasn’t our day. We didn’t play well,” captain Bastian Schweinsteiger summarised afterwards. “We weren’t up to scratch today. We have to admit that,” added Mario Götze. “It’s simple – we played really badly. We have to take a good, long look at ourselves,” admitted Jérôme Boateng. “That’s gone all wrong. Obviously it’s not a good restart for us,” said Manuel Neuer.

Wolfsburg’s perfect timing

The world’s best keeper was obliged to pick the ball from the back of his net no fewer than four times on Friday night as FCB’s goals against tally doubled in the course of one game. “We expected a different outcome and went out there looking for it too,” continued Neuer, although he insisted the clear-cut reverse was no grounds for panic: FCB still lead Wolfsburg by eight points at the top of the standings. “It’s not a catastrophe, but we know we still have a lot to do.”

Munich started well in front of the 30,000 full house and put the home side under early pressure. However, the goals went to Dieter Hecking’s men. Bas Dost slotted home the opener on the break after just four minutes, and the Dutchman doubled his and his team’s tally with a fortunate volleyed effort on the stroke of half-time. “Wolfsburg were better and scored their goals at just the right time. Congratulations,” acknowledged Bayern boss Pep Guardiola.

Caught on the break

The Spaniard’s troops went for it after the interval but Wolfsburg were in deadly counter-attacking form and Kevin de Bruyne finished off two fast breaks on 53 and 73 minutes, Juan Bernat scoring his first goal in a red shirt on 55 minutes to hand his team a few moments of hope. “We often lost our shape when we attacked and they picked us apart relatively easily on the break. That shouldn’t be happening,” Schweinsteiger remarked.

“We walked into their trap,” lamented Arjen Robben. “It’s proof of what we’ve always said after we’ve won: we never get something for nothing. We have to learn our lessons, and the result may actually not be a bad thing for the future.” Boateng also felt the first reverse after 21 games unbeaten could have a positive dimension: “It might be good that it’s happened today because it’s a wake-up call.”

FCB have no time to lick their wounds in any case as Schweinsteiger & Co are up against Champions League contenders Schalke at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday. “We all know we’ll need a vast improvement against Schalke if we’re to make amends for this,” stated Boateng. Prior to the latest clash with his former club, Neuer also saw an early chance for FCB to redeem themselves: “A midweek game is just what we need right now. It would be bad if we were having to wait eight days for the next match. We have to turn it around from here on in.”