Bayern focus on ‘hard fight’ ahead
The 25th German championship title, the third in a row, is in effect won after the 1-0 victory over Hertha BSC with four matchdays left. But there was no boisterous party in the Allianz Arena on Saturday evening -- "because it's not 100 percent certain yet and because we're in for a hard match on Tuesday," Thomas Müller explained.
But the championship could be official tonight (19.15 CET) -- if Wolfsburg fail to win against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the weekend's top match. "We wouldn't celebrate one way or another yet," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge decided. After all, there would be enough time after the end of the season. Now the focus should be on the important DFB Cup semi-final against Dortmund on Tuesday and on both legs of the semi-final against FC Barcelona in the Champions League (6 and 12 May).
After the workmanlike 1-0 victory over Hertha everyone knew that the Bavarians would have to be as strong as in the second leg against Porto to make it to both finals. "We had big plans, but we didn't really carry them out," said captain Philipp Lahm, "after a match like ours against Porto you shift down. If you want to get back to 100 percent it's not easy."
There were few chances against "well-organised" (Thomas Müller) Berlin on Saturday evening. In the course of the second half Bayern upped the tempo, eventually earning the narrow victory. Bastian Schweinsteiger, returning after a three-week lay-off, scored the winning goal after an excellent assist by Mitchell Weiser (80).
"The preparation was world-class. Mitchell sidestepped four opponents as if in a slalom," Rummenigge said. praising the Cologne-born youngster, "and Schweini netted very well." Weiser, directly involved in four goals during his last six league games, called his solo an "instinct. It just went well." As well as Weiser more youngsters gained experience against Hertha, like Gianluca Gaudino or debutant Sinan Kurt.
'We need all our power'
"We made the changes that were necessary," sporting director Matthias Sammer stated. The Spanish group of Xabi Alonso, Thiago and Juan Bernat benefited from a breather. Because there are many injured players (Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Holger Badstuber, David Alaba, Rafinha, Tom Starke) it wasn't simply a matter of rotation. "I hope that some players can return soon," said Rummenigge, "that's crucial. We need their quality on the pitch now."
Ideally on Tuesday. "Dortmund will give everything because it's the only trophy they can still win," Lahm commented. Manuel Neuer, having prevented a goal in the second half with a brilliant save, added: "We need all our power and top form on that day to beat Dortmund." One thing is certain: "It will be a hard fight!"