Hard-fought but confidence-boosting win
The Bavarians were visibly relieved after the narrow 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in Saturday's top Bundesliga clash, their first success after two competitive defeats in a row. Their eighth Bundesliga win means Munich have kept pace with table-toppers RB Leipzig, handing FC Bayern president Uli Hoeneß a successful start one day after the Annual General Meeting.
"We're emerging from a difficult period, we needed a win," said Carlo Ancelotti after the final whistle at the Allianz Arena. "It was very important to win this game. The last two matches weren't good, we had to show a reacion. We did it. There are periods when it's more important to win than play well," declared the Italian.
First league goal for Hummels
"The victory wasn't a feast for the eyes but a hard-fought win," stressed Mats Hummels. The centre-back handed the hosts three points with his 56th-minute header, his first league goal after his return to the German record champions last summer. "The victory was down to attitude today, not to class or tactical superiority. It was just a hotly-contested fight," summarised Hummels.
Thiago's opener put the Bavarians ahead on the half-hour, but Hakan Calhanoglu levelled the scores almost immediately. The visitors were a constant menace for Ancelotti's troops and Bayern enjyoed the necessary bit of luck in the closing stages, when Javi Martínez went unpunished after a handball in the box. "Overall we had a little luck, but we earned it," commented Hummels.
Room for improvement
"It was a very difficult match because Leverkusen were strong opponents as expected," Hoeneß said in praise of the Rhineland outfit. "The fact is that we aren't so dominant at the moment, we don't control the opposition so much in home matches. Perhaps it's also a sign of a lack of confidence," Hoeneß suspected. "You could see we're not at 100 percent in terms of confidence," Hummels agreed.
Thomas Müller too reckoned that the Bavarians are "having more difficulties than in the past, so we sometimes have to work hard for a victory." Manuel Neuer spoke of a lack of "fluidity and certainty at the moment." Skipper Philipp Lahm declared: "You could see that not everything's going smoothly and that we have to solve it by means of hard work."
In the event, the Reds have done more than merely keep pace with Leipzig, three points ahead in the table. The hard-earned victory over Leverkusen was also important "to play better football through our confidence," stressed Hoeneß. Everybody knew there was still room for improvement. "We have a long way to go to make the first half of the season a really good one," said Hummels.