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After Barça

‘We’ll give it everything we have’

Despite the agonising 3-0 defeat to FC Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg, the applause was warm and generous when the players entered the banqueting suite at the Princesa Sofia Hotel in Barcelona just before midnight. “The team fought like heroes for 77 minutes und battled away,” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge declared in his speech, “I’m sad, not because of the result but due to the course of the match. We could have done a little better than that.”

In-form Barça were very good indeed, but for a long time it appeared Bayern might come away from the cauldron of the Camp Nou with a goalless draw. “But unfortunately we rather lost control of the game,” the chairman reflected. Just as the star-studded Catalans appeared to be losing patience, the irrepressible Lionel Messi struck clinically on 77 and 80 minutes. To make matters worse, Brazil star Neymar added a third in the fourth minute of time added on.

“At 1-0 or even 2-0 you’ve still got a chance in the return. But 3-0 makes it tough,” reflected Pep Guardiola. Rummenigge feels FCB’s chances are “no longer very big.” However: “We’re Bayern Munich! And maybe we’ll witness a footballing miracle. Our duty next Tuesday is to give it everything we have one more time. I don’t know if it’ll be enough, but we’ll still throw the lot at it one last time.”

Rueful Reds

The immediate priority is to digest and move on from Wednesday’s match. “Conceding three goals at the end eaves a very, very bitter taste,” said captain Philipp Lahm, “we kept the game relatively open, although Barça did have the better of the chances.” Manuel Neuer brilliantly kept out two of them, first against Luis Suarez after 12 minutes and then against Dani Alves six minutes before half-time. Masked striker Robert Lewandowski was unable to convert Munich’s best opening after 18 minutes.

Bayern were a much more commanding proposition after the break. “We had it under control,” said Thomas Müller, “but we’ve thrown it away in the space of five minutes. On top of that, the last goal by Neymar is obviously a killer.” Jérôme Boateng took a similar view. “It’s very irritating, painful and disappointing that we fell apart like that after conceding the opener.”

But as Rummenigge noted, hand-wringing will get no-one anywhere, and nor was the chairman inclined to fall back on the excuse of the club’s long injury roster. “I have no criticism of the team, they’ve not deserved it,” declared sporting director Matthias Sammer. The Reds must now concentrate on picking themselves up and moving on. “We’ll give it everything through to the very end,” Müller promised. And, as Boateng added: “We have nothing more to lose.”