FCB back in the groove
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was relaxed and beaming with satisfaction as he entered the Allianz Arena mixed zone on Saturday evening. "It was perhaps our best performance this season," the FC Bayern chairman summarised after the 2-0 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach: "We played brilliantly in the first half and were in total control in the second." Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa, who turned in a strong display, converted the Bavarians' dominance into goals.
It meant everybody was happy on Saturday evening, in stark contrast to last weekend, when Bayern were held to a 2-2 draw by Eintracht Frankfurt, conceding the equaliser when they had men over in their own box. Head coach Carlo Ancelotti and Rummenigge focused their post-match criticism on the players' attitude. But the team reacted, showing their true quality in Wednesday's Champions League encounter with PSV. On Saturday, the players picked up where they left off in midweek.
"Sometimes you have to provoke the team a little," declared Rummenigge. "We have such high quality: when we live up to that it's difficult to beat FC Bayern." Borussia, who travelled to Munich buoyed both by a strong record against FCB and Wednesday's success away to Celtic, experienced that at first hand. The Foals had gone unbeaten against Bayern in four competitive fixtures, but the German record champions dominated proceedings from the very first minute.
"We attacked early, our defenders were high up the field so our midfielders could press forward. There was this constant impression that if one player is too far away the next one is right there," Manuel Neuer explained. The men in red were not as determined up front in the second half, but "we maintained control. It was important not to ease off and show Gladbach they weren't going to take anything away from here," Bayern's number one elaborated.
Homing in on the attacking unit Douglas Costa stood out on Saturday. The Brazilian made the starting line-up for the first time this term and wowed the faithful with fantastic dribbling skills, just like in his strongest phase in the first half of last season. "I hope he builds on that as he's a crucial weapon in our play," commented Rummenigge. None of the players took issue with his goal celebration, when he headed towards the stands for a selfie with two friends. "I think the occasional unusual celebration should be permitted," declared Thomas Müller.
Bayern's cushion to Borussia Dortmund, which has grown to six points, is much more important. "The matchday went well for us," said Rummenigge. "There are other teams who are closer in the table, like Hertha, Köln or Leipzig. They're doing well: respect," praised the Bayern chairman, "but after us, Borussia are the team with the highest potential, so it's good we've taken two more points than they did."