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Upbeat in defeat

Müller: We’re still FC Bayern

The Portuguese word saudade symbolises a feeling of longing due to loss, and the Portuguese musical genre of Fado is infused with sentiments of resignation and melancholy. A little of all that hung in the air at Bayern’s traditional post-Champions League banquet late on Wednesday night. A couple of hours earlier, the German champions-elect had lost the quarter-final first leg 3-1 to FC Porto and now have it all to do in the return at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday. It is a big ask, but fortunately it is also well within the bounds of possibility.

“I’m seeing some sad faces,” noted Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in his speech. “It’s never a great evening when you’ve lost 3-1. We made bad mistakes and didn’t play well. We have to be critical of ourselves, but we need to let it sink in calmly. It would be a good idea to regroup. Next Tuesday’s return will be tough, but I have great faith in this magnificent team and this magnificent coach.”

‘A start to forget’

Two individual errors paved the way for Munich’s first-ever defeat in Portugal. Ricardo Quaresma capitalised ruthlessly with a third-minute penalty and a second goal just seven minutes later. “We didn’t exactly start brilliantly, as everyone saw. In fact it was a start to forget,” Thomas Müller said. “Errors like ours are punished at this level. It’s frustrating. We have to shake ourselves awake. If you want to become a great team, you have to be able to put these things behind you,” added sporting director Matthias Sammer.

FCB fought their way into the contest and seized control of the match, deservedly pulling a goal back through Thiago on 28 minutes. It was the player’s maiden Champions League strike in his return to the competition after a lengthy injury absence. “The team reacted well. We could easily have lived with losing 2-1,” reflected captain Philipp Lahm. But after half-time, “we weren’t able to play our football any more,” Müller lamented. Jackson Martínez took advantage of another defensive lapse to round off the scoring on 65 minutes.

Neuer: Life goes on

The senior figures at the club were in no mood to pick on individuals. “I have no explanation, but neither am I going to start lashing out,” said Sammer. Rummenigge also insisted he was “not prepared to criticise the team. We only have 13 or 14 fit players at the moment and they’ve been playing three games a week for a long time. At some point the day comes when you’re shattered, you’re exhausted, your legs are heavy and you just lack a little concentration.”

“It all went a bit flat in the second half and we conceded a stupid third goal,” remarked Jérôme Boateng. Müller expressed disappointment with the second half: “We failed to get the game under control. It became bogged down in midfield and was very scrappy,” said the striker. “We hardly created any chances and never really got into areas where we could hurt them. We know we’ve fallen short collectively today, but life goes on,” observed keeper Manuel Neuer.

 

Pep: Result is complicated

Shortly before midnight, the players and officials turned their attention to what lies ahead. “We’re a little bit down at the moment and we’ll be criticised – rightly so. But there’s a second leg,” Sammer pointed out. “It’s a complicated result,” said Pep Guardiola, but he too noted that it is only half-time in the tie. “We have to stay calm and not lose our nerve. We need at least two goals at home and a win, whether 2-0, 3-1 with extra-time, or 5-2 if it was down to me. We’re full of optimism. We’ll need a top performance,” said Sammer.

The players are well aware that a place in the last four is anything but out of reach. “It’s important we go out there and play as a team. We have the chance to make the necessary corrections on Tuesday,” said Boateng, appealing for strong team spirit. The last word fell to Müller: “We’re all saying we’ll really go for it on Tuesday. We’re still FC Bayern, a strong home team. It wouldn’t be a footballing miracle if we were to win 2-0 at home, but we know we have a lot of work to do."

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