FCB look forward to 'Christmas final'

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The Bayern stars were visibly relieved after the narrow 1-0 victory over Darmstadt. "We've taken three crucial points," Manuel Neuer commented in the Mixed Zone at Darmstadt's venerable Böllenfalltor Stadium before boarding the team bus. Mats Hummels too was satisfied after Bayern reclaimed top spot in the table: "Brilliant football has never won any matches here. You have to fight here, you have to work here, and we did just that."

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge felt vindicated in terms of a prediction. "I told the coach beforehand, we're going to play our toughest match this week here, today. So it was important to take the three points," the Bayern chairman commented at Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion after the match. It was "not easy to find a gap," according to Rummenigge. Carlo Ancelotti agreed: "Darmstadt defended very well." Thomas Müller warned: "Of course Darmstadt did a decent job. But that's no excuse, we should have created more chances."

Ancelotti's troops struggled for a long time against the minnows. "It wasn't easy to deliver precise passes against deep-lying opponents who were defending aggressively," explained Hummels. "The ball bounced quite often, but we made it difficult for ourselves with bad first passes out of defence." Müller added that the Bavarians' movements were "a bit too hesitant, especially in the first half. It was a bit better in the second, but overall we're not satisfied with our display, only with the result." Ancelotti focused on the positive aspects: "At the end of the day we won thanks to Douglas Costa's great goal. That's why we're satisfied and happy."

Three points? 'It's about more than that'

Müller ("A fantastic goal!") and Neuer ("Incredible!") were equally impressed by Douglas Costa's long-range effort, but the men from Munich quickly turned their focus to the last challenge of the year. On Wednesday the German record champions contest the "big Christmas final" , as Rummenigge called the encounter with chief rivals RB Leipzig. "We'll regenerate on Monday, but then we'll have a very close look at Leipzig," commented Hummels. It is "very important we contest the match as leaders," according to Neuer. "But it would have been a top match anyway, regardless of this matchday. We're all looking forward to it, and the same goes for the football fans."

The meeting between the sides lying first and second involves "lots of prestige," explained Müller: "It's about more than just the three points." Neuer added that apart from the match in Darmstadt the Bavarians have "turned in good displays recently," and are expecting a "match on equal terms" as Leipzig are on a run too. Hummels predicted a "very tough task" against the Bundesliga newcomers: "We need a top performance." Müller offered a typically neat summing-up: "It's wonderful for the whole German footballing family as the final match of the year, and it'll be wonderful for us - if we win."

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