Sun, 05/02/17, 11:15
Bayern aim to 'play better and work hard'
Two victories and one draw: Bayern's record in 2017 is solid. The record champions have extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings to four points thanks to Saturday's draw against Schalke and second-placed Leipzig's defeat at Dortmund, but Philipp Lahm & Co left the Allianz Arena with mixed feelings. "It's nothing dramatic at the moment, we've taken seven points from the last three matches," said Lahm, who made his 500th competitive appearance for Bayern when he came on after 77 minutes. "But it's clear we want to play better football."
The start was promising as Munich took the lead with their first dangerous attack. Arturo Vidal teed up the lurking Robert Lewandowski, who took his Bundesliga tally to 15 goals this term with a sumptuous lob after nine minutes, seemingly setting Bayern on their way to a ninth competitive victory on the bounce. But then Naldo's 13th-minute free-kick found the net, sealing the final scoreline early on.
"We did a superb job regarding the first goal, but then we allowed too many chances and our lines were often too far away from each other," Neuer analysed. "Things that have always been our trademarks like pace and accurate passing aren't working the way we'd like at the moment." The Bavarians had a couple of chances in the closing stages, Javi Martínez for example aiming a shade wide after 85 minutes, but FCB failed to score before the final whistle, as they recently managed against Freiburg. "You can't always be so lucky," summarised Neuer.
'Any match can be tight'
In any case, the Bavarians do not want to rely on luck. "There's nothing at all wrong at the moment," according to Lahm, "but the players have to be aware that we can't play the way we did in the last three matches over the next few weeks." Bayern's next three opponents will be Wolfsburg, Ingolstadt and Arsenal, and "any match can be tight, no matter who we play," the Bayern skipper warned. But Lahm remains optimistic: "We had a phase when things didn't work so well in the first half of the season, and we fought our way out." Neuer issued a rallying call: "We have to work hard."
The Bavarians aim to demonstrate their qualities on Tuesday evening at 20.45 CET, when they take on Wolfsburg in the DFB Cup last sixteen. Ideally Carlo Ancelotti's troops will build on their last Bundesliga encounter with the Wolves 57 days ago on 10 December, when Lewandowski scored a brace and they won 5-0. But the Polish striker would happily go without a goal as long as the record cup winners prevail. The main thing for Lewandowski is a win: "We want to make it to the next round!"