presented by
‘We’re ready’

Bayern turn focus to Shakhtar

Mario Götze headed for the hills, and Dante had a day out with his family... the Säbener Strasse training ground was deserted on Sunday after Pep Guardiola handed his men the day off. And the stars had every reason to enjoy the first spring-like temperatures of the year to the full, as FCB extended their lead in the Bundesliga to 11 points following Saturday’s matches. “That’s a good weekend for us,” stated Pep Guardiola in the wake of his team’s 3-1 victory at Hannover and Wolfsburg’s 1-0 defeat on the road in Augsburg.

However, the Bayern camp waved away attempts from rivals to offer congratulations on wrapping up the championship. “I was never any good at drawing,” said sporting director Matthias Sammer when asked if he had placed a tick next to Bayern’s 25th national title. There are still ten games to go and 30 points to be won. “It’s three more points,” said Guardiola, placing a metaphorical tick next to Matchday 24 but nothing more. Thomas Müller’s take on the comfortable lead at the top of the table was pragmatic: “It’s certainly good for our target of retaining the championship, so we’ll go to bed happy tonight.”

Sleep, recovery and regeneration are the top items on the agenda. “We’re not partying,” revealed Jérôme Boateng following the hard-earned victory in Hannover, especially given the proximity of the Champions League Round of 16 return at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. “We’ll need a top performance because it’ll be a very, very tough game,” warned Sammer: “But we’re ready.”

Workmanlike win

Bayern have every reason to be grateful for their stern examination in Hannover. Once again, the Reds ultimately imposed their game on very defensive and highly motivated opponents; FCB again allowed the their rivals barely a sniff of goal; and they showed great patience and fighting spirit. Hannover took a surprise 25th-minute lead through Hiroshi Kiyotake, but Xabi Alonso equalised just three minutes later. After the break Müller struck twice to win it with a 61st-minute penalty and a 72nd-minute header.

“We had to roll up our sleeves, but it was also fully deserved,” opined Holger Badstuber after the final whistle. “It was very hard work,” confirmed Guardiola. The main reason was Hannover’s “superb defensive organisation,” combined with the mentally challenging position of the game in between do-or-die encounters in the DFB Cup and the Champions League. “It makes an away league game all the more tricky,” remarked the FCB coach. Everything will be different against Donetsk on Wednesday. “It’s a final,” noted Guardiola, where only one thing matters: “We have to win.”