Bayern looking forward to end of year finale
Who'd have thought it? Six months after his career ended, there's a touch of Philipp Lahm back in the FC Bayern game. "It's as if Philipp Lahm was still here, back in the old days at FC Bayern," said Thomas Müller with a smile after the final whistle in Stuttgart, "Philipp sometimes said to Rafa: Have it!" And those are exactly the words Rafinha said to Müller 79 minutes into the game at Stuttgart: "Have it!" Müller did as he was told. He fired the ball into the corner of the VfB net with his left foot -- 1-0! The winner!
"Today he opted for a rocket shot with his left-foot which he normally just uses for standing on," joked Jupp Heynckes, discussing Müller's goal that represented the first key moment in a hard-fought southern derby. The second followed in added time: Sven Ulreich saved a penalty at his old stomping ground to secure the 13th win of the season and "three important points in the league," as the hero of the day said.
A "tight-knit unit"
FC Bayern will go into the winter break at the top of the Bundesliga with at least a ten-point and possibly eleven-point lead, "a very, very good margin for the winter break," according to Niklas Süle. Not to be forgotten is, FCB were five points behind the league leaders two months ago. Then Jupp Heynckes arrived.
"He has a great relationship with all the players. And the results are right. Everything is going right at the moment," said Müller about the head coach and he added the team is now a "tight-knit unit." After three 1-0 wins on the bounce, it is clear Bayern are ready for the winter break. "We haven't been able to stroll through the league in the last three games," said Müller, "we've had to work hard."
A cracking end of the year finale awaits before the players can put up their feet. The Allianz Arena is the venue for the DFB Cup Round of 16 tie against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. "Our passing hasn't been quite so good in the last three matches and we haven't been that effective. We know we'll have to up our game against Dortmund," said Ulreich.
Heynckes gave his players the day off on Sunday. Instead of training, they had the chance to spend time at home with their families. "The players have to recover and clear their heads," said the head coach, "the team have been great up to now. And we can still improve. So I'm confident we can go again against Borussia Dortmund." The match will definitely release additional energy anyway. "In terms of anticipation and significance, it's the biggest match in Germany," said Mats Hummels and on Saturday he declared: "I feel a bit exited."