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Milestone & record start

FCB proud, hungry and with ‘both feet on the ground’

For all the wealth of stats and numbers, actual mathematics and football rarely have much to do with each other. But Saturday afternoon’s match at the Allianz Arena, a classic example of the entertaining and unpredictable spectacle so often provided by the beautiful game, can for once be condensed into two numerals, the staples of the binary system: 1 and 0.

Bayern extended their record winning run since the start of the Bundesliga season to 10, became the first club in league history to reach 1,000 wins, jubilantly welcomed back their superstar with the squad number 10, namely Arjen Robben, and all this on Matchday 10. “It’s fantastic for every one of us and the whole team to have been part of it,” said Manuel Neuer, who again conceded 0 goals – this for the 138th time in his Bundesliga career, meaning he overtakes his most legendary predecessor Sepp Maier.

“A thousand wins is outstanding. All credit to our fans, players, coaches and staff at FC Bayern who’ve contributed to this extraordinary achievement,” enthused Pep Guardiola after his team’s 4-0 victory over FC Köln. “1,000 shows how big this club is. I’m proud to be Bayern Munich coach at this moment in time.”

‘A major accomplishment’

Köln boss Peter Stöger joined in the chorus of praise. “Winning 1,000 times is truly exceptional. It’s genuinely impressive,” said the former Austria Vienna number 10. Quite apart from the historic milestone, Stöger expressed admiration for FCB’s current wave of success: “It shows real class if you can maintain this desire to win in a professional team comprising players who have probably won the lot already. The feeling that they still want more is a major accomplishment.”

Stöger’s team are a mean defensive unit but proved unable to stop irrepressible FCB. “It’s more like handball when your opponents defend so deep. But they get to choose their own tactics and it’s up to us to find a solution,” commented Robben, who scored the crucial deadlock-breaker after 35 minutes. “There was no space between the lines. Passing to the centre was basically impossible, so it was really vital to score the first goal,” said Guardiola.

Pep’s recipe for success

Yet again, the coach came up with the right tactical plan: “Against opponents who defend like that you need players with the quality in the one-on-one situations. The more players you have with this level of quality, the better the game.” The combination of Robben, Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman plus deadly marksmen Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller allowed Bayern to break down Köln’s stern resistance. Arturo Vidal (40), Lewandowski (62) and Müller (77, pen) added goals to Robben’s opener with the final stats showing the Reds winning the shot count 26-4 and controlling 74 percent of the possession.

Milestones were passed and new records set, but the champions are not about to rest on their laurels. “I’ll drink red wine this evening. But tomorrow I’ll start thinking about our next opponents,” announced Guardiola. The players’ view was broadly the same. “It’s not about records, it’s about trophies, and they’re not handed out until the end,” said Robben, “let’s keep calm and carry on. Both feet on the ground. There’s always a next game – and our next one is a real toughie.”

The match in question is Tuesday’s DFB Cup trip to Wolfsburg, bringing us neatly back to the numerals 1 and 0. As Philipp Lahm stated: “You either go through or you’re out.”