Bayern to be 'serious and professional' until the end
Joy on one side, despair on the other. Whilst the FC Bayern players were celebrating a narrow 1-0 victory over Darmstadt in front of the south stand, there were bowed heads amongst the visitors. The loss at the Allianz Arena brought any hope of a footballing miracle to an end for the Lilies after weeks of impressive, passionate performances. After two years in the Bundesliga, Darmstadt must now return to the second tier.
"We threw it away well before. It had nothing to do with today," explained former Bayern midfielder Hamit Altintop, who had his late penalty saved by Tom Starke to possibly secure a point for the visitors. The victory came courtesy of Juan Bernat's strike in the 18th minute to give the fans a 23rd win of the season just one week after securing a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title.
Seven new starters
"We would've liked to give the fans a few more goals, but were just lacking that final touch," bemoaned captain Thomas Müller on the record champions' shot conversion after the game. FCB managed 23 shots during the 90 minutes, but either found Darmstadt keeper Michael Esser or the frame of the goal in their way.
"We didn't play too well. The first half was quite good, but we had problems controlling the game in the second," said coach Carlo Ancelotti in analysis of the game. The 57-year-old tactician chose to start with seven new players compared to the previous week's victory at Wolfsburg, with world champions Philipp Lahm and Mats Hummels joining Thiago, Arjen Robben, Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso on the bench.
Looking forward to Leipzig
"I've tried to give every player, who hasn't played that much, some playing time," explained Ancelotti, who is also without Manuel Neuer's deputy Sven Ulreich for the remainder of the season after Bayern's No. 2 suffered an elbow injury in training on Friday. Veteran Tom Starke therefore returned to the starting XI and ensured the three points for FCB with some good saves, including the penalty in the closing minutes.
"We're all professionals and want to be professional and serious until the end. And when you play at home and win, then there's no substitute for that," replied Starke when asked how the team is remaining motivated after the title win. Match-winner Bernat also saw is similarly: "There's nothing more to play for now, but we have to respect the shirt and the opponent. The team did well and we won the three points, which is the important thing."
FCB are guests in Leipzig next week for the final away game of the season at runners-up RBL. "We had no pressure today, but the next match against Leipzig will be something else," stated Ancelotti as he praised the promoted side, who secured automatic qualification for the Champions League group stage on Saturday. "They were fantastic opponents this season. We have to be on the ball again at Leipzig and show what we can do."