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'A good feeling'

Group phase reaches acceptable conclusion

The cold was the only thing that caused bother last night. In freezing temperatures, FC Bayern celebrated a narrow 1-0 win over group winners and last year’s runners-up Atlético Madrid as the Champions League group stages reached an acceptable conclusion. Above all, their 15th consecutive home win in the competition will give the record German title-winners further confidence going into the final Bundesliga games of the year.

“We deserved to win. We played well over the 90 minutes, controlled the game and had most of the possession. This performance gives us lots of confidence for the coming games,” said coach Carlo Ancelotti after the final whistle. “Now we have to wait for the draw. There are no easy games for anyone in the last 16,” Ancelotti added.

Barca among possible opponents in last 16

For the first time since the 2009/10 season, the Munich side haven’t finished top of their group and will now face a group winner in Monday’s draw for the last 16. Five of their potential opponents have already been confirmed: Barcelona, Arsenal, Leicester City, Napoli and Monaco. The other possible candidates are Real Madrid (if they win their final group game against Dortmund) and either Juventus or Sevilla.

It’s “swings and roundabouts“ who they now get in the last 16, according to Mats Hummels. “Maybe it will be one of the top teams, maybe it will be a supposedly easier match. But I don’t think it will be an easy draw,” said Hummels, looking ahead. “If we get through to the next round then everything will be in order again. If we slip up against a very strong side, then maybe we’ll be a bit more annoyed.”

Mats Hummels
"12 points is not so bad"

There was hardly cause to be annoyed after the last Champions League game before the winter break. Even if there was nothing to play for in the game, both sides were committed from the kick-off. The visitors had the better chances at first but it was Bayern who scored the decisive goal in the 28th minute as Robert Lewandowski provided the highlight of the game with his second free-kick in the space of four days in front of 70,000 fans at a sold-out Allianz Arena.

“It was a good feeling and good for the fans. A lot of people had been looking forward to this as the game between the top two in the group. It should have been the decider for first place but that wasn’t to be, which makes it even better and more commendable that the players took the game so seriously. We were by far the better team,” stressed Thomas Müller, who came on as a late substitute. Up until the final whistle, Bayern looked more likely to make it 2-0 then Atlético did to equalise.

“It gives us confidence. First and foremost we wanted to win the game for ourselves, to say that we’ve beaten Atlético,” said Hummels, who rated the outcome of the group stage as “okay”: “12 points is not that bad.” In the three remaining league games before the winter break, it’s about “playing well and winning. If we do that, then we can say it’s been a good first half of the season.”