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'We can play better'

'Desire and character' seal top spot at halfway mark

What a game! With temperatures of seven below zero the effort on the pitch was evident from the clouds of steam rising from the players. "It was a tough game today, a real battle," said Thomas Müller after the 2-1 away win at SC Freiburg on Friday night with the victory secured by a Robert Lewandowski strike in added time. "If you make it 2-1 so late then it’s obviously a touch lucky," said Philipp Lahm who "absolutely" believes "we can play better. But it was important that we won."

The first league match of the new year, the first win for Bayern that retains top spot in the Bundesliga and seals the Herbstmeisterschaft (the unofficial title for the club leading the Bundesliga at the halfway stage of the season). It is the 22nd time overall and the sixth in succession for the record champions. However, that was not really crucial for the Reds in Freiburg. Statistically this unofficial title is a good omen: FCB have lifted the German league title 18 times out of the 21 where they have led at the halfway mark (85.7%).

"Then you have to show other qualities"

FC Bayern know only too well the targeted title is not a given, particularly after the tight result at Freiburg. "The match was difficult from the start. We faced an opponent that was really strong at the back and played with a high intensity," said Carlo Ancelotti who believes there is room for improvement with his team: "We can be happy with the result but not in the way we played."

The FCB head coach gave special praise for the "desire and character" of his players. "That's why we won the match in the end. Of course, we can play better. But that doesn't happen sometimes. Then you have to show other qualities. Sometimes you just have to fight and come back – and that's what we did."

"The first match after the winter break is never easy," said Arjen Robben, "first you have to get back into it. We need to rediscover our rhythm and improve in the next few games. We are trying to do that as quickly as possible." FCB are up north on Saturday in an away game at Werder Bremen.