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‘Nagging’ defeat

FCB aim to ‘draw the right conclusions’

At the end of last week, Thomas Müller clearly had a premonition. “The longer a streak continues, the higher the likelihood it’ll end at some point,” the FC Bayern striker mused in the build-up to the top of the table Bundesliga clash with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Müller was of course referring to the Foals’ nine-game unbeaten run prior to the weekend fixture, but events proved his hunch to be fundamentally correct, albeit in relation to his own club: Bayern’s run of 14 matches without defeat came to a halt in a 3-1 defeat to Gladbach.

“Obviously, we’re not exactly pleased,” Müller stated after the unexpected setback in front of a 54,010 full house at Borussia Park. The goal-getter made no secret of his disappointment at the Reds’ first league defeat of term: “It was neither planned nor desired, and we’re not about to travel home feeling satisfied. It nags away at you, especially the way it came about.” It was also Bayern’s first reverse in the first half of a Bundesliga campaign in more than three years: the Reds last lost before the winter break in October 2012, 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen.

Ribéry strikes but too late

The FCB camp was mainly concerned about the manner of the defeat. In a top-quality contest featuring two teams on excellent form, the visitors neglected to capitalise on their overwhelming first-half superiority. “We failed to take our chances and score goals before half-time,” confirmed captain Philipp Lahm. Pep Guardiola’s men fashioned half a dozen clear-cut openings but either narrowly missed or were denied by a stellar performance from home keeper Yann Sommer. “We lacked a little bit of luck,” said Müller.

“We were good in the first half,” agreed Guardiola, but he watched in dismay as his team conceded Oscar Wendt’s 54th-minute opener and proceeded to lose their shape for a spell. “We had severe problems and lost our stability and control,” Guardiola explained. Lars Stindl (66) and Fabian Johnson (68) made it 3-0 to Gladbach with a double whammy not long afterwards. Substitute Franck Ribéry marked his comeback from a nine-month lay-off with an 81st-minute strike, but it was too late and rated as a mere consolation.

Lessons to be learned

“We’re no longer used to falling behind,” suggested Lahm, expressing frustration with the period between the 64th and 68th minutes, in which Manuel Neuer made a superb save to prevent Julian Korb scoring another goal for the Foals. “We had five very, very poor minutes. We have to analyse this. We’ve thrown the game away in the space of five minutes,” the captain continued. “We never said we were unbeatable. We wanted to keep our run going for as long as possible, but it’s ended today.”

“The defeat isn’t a good thing. We have to draw the right conclusions from it,” commented sporting director Matthias Sammer, although he was not unduly downcast: “It’s not a defeat that’ll knock us off course.” In any case, Bayern have little time to lick their wounds. Following Sunday’s regenerative training drills, the coaches and players will be back on Monday to commence preparations for the final Champions League group fixture away to Dinamo Zagreb. “We need to quickly forget today and focus on the next match,” Ribéry concluded.