FCB travel to face Juve in 'good spirits'

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A debut, a new record and a long yearned-for comeback: FC Bayern's home meeting with Darmstadt 98 was special in many respects. But first and foremost the deserved 3-1 victory against the promoted side was a successful dress rehearsal for the Champions League Round of 16 first leg away to Juventus on Tuesday.

"Of course we know what to expect. It was a good warm-up for Juve because their style of play is quite similar. They turned in a very intense display, and Juve might do the same -- so in this respect it was a good way to prepare," Arjen Robben summarised on Saturday evening.

Müller turns the game

"Juve will lie just as deep and wait to launch counter-attacks," commented Serdar Tasci after his first appearance for FCB. "It was a fantastic feeling to be in the starting line-up," the centre-back said, celebrating his return to the Bundesliga after being away for two and a half years. But at first things did not go as planned: despite their overwhelming dominance and a number of scoring chances FCB were one down at half-time after Sandro Wagner's 26th-minute opener.

"We didn't play so badly, we had quite a lot of chances. More than we had hoped for, but we didn't make the most of them," reasoned Thomas Müller, who turned the game on its head with his brace (49, 71) before Robert Lewandowski wrapped things up for the Bavarians six minutes from time. "We turned the game round, which shows we're in good spirits," stressed Müller after taking his tally for the season to 17.

'Different performance' in Turin

FCB have scored ten goals since the winter break, and attacking duo Müller and Lewandowski have scored every single one of them. After 22 matchdays the Poland international (22) and the world champion (17) boast 39 goals, more than any other twosome in Bundesliga history. The previous record was set by Gerd Müller (24) and Uli Hoeneß (13) in the 1972/73 season. "We can count on our players up front, and that's a good feeling," commented keeper Manuel Neuer.

The 75,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw Franck Ribéry step out onto the home turf more than 11 months since his last appearance as a player in Munich. "In the second half -- and especially when Franck came on -- we played more consistently and won deservedly in the end," analysed Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who was "very glad" about the long-awaited comeback.

But as they left the Arena, the German record champions turned their focus to the upcoming match in Turin. "It's going to be a difficult match. Juve are clever, the stadium is superb. I'm looking forward to it," said two-goal hero Müller, seeing room for improvement after the match against Darmstadt. "We failed to make best use out of our chances, which is what caused our problems. We have to deliver a different performance against Juventus."


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