One last major effort before winter break

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The German Christmas carol ‘O du fröhliche’ ('o you joyful') was ringing out after the final whistle at the Allianz Arena, symbolising the mood on the pitch and in the stands. “It was really important to progress at home tonight,” commented Thomas Müller after a draining 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 of the DFB Cup. “It was certainly a big win, so we’re very happy and relieved that all the effort we’ve put in over recent weeks has paid off,” continued the skipper.

Bayern came out of the blocks quickly on Wednesday evening and created countless chances, but in the end they were “fearing for their place in the next round”, as Jérôme Boateng put it. The centre-back gave the Reds a deserved lead with a header in the 12th minute after Niklas Süle and Arturo Vidal had been denied by the woodwork. Bayern didn’t let up after that but it took them a while to find the second goal.

Big effort

Müller eventually made it 2-0 shortly before half-time and the match continued in much the same way after the break. Bayern pushed forward hoping to seal the win but Lewandowski (46’) and Müller (49’ and 64’) couldn’t hit the target. “We failed to close the game out,” bemoaned Jupp Heynckes. “That’s our shortcoming at the moment, we’re not taking our chances.”

And as is so often the case, they were punished for this when Andriy Yarmolenko pulled a goal back in the 76th minute. The visitors then threw everything forward to force the tie into extra-time but Müller and his teammates stood strong, even though the strain of the match and the last few weeks was noticeable. “We had to put an incredible amount of effort in during the first half,” said Heynckes. “At the end we were under pressure against a good side and we certainly had a bit of luck in the closing stages,” added Heynckes, referring to Alexander Isak’s big chance in injury time when the ball missed the goal by a whisker.

Resting ahead of a big 2018

Moments later it was over and Bayern reached the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup for the 11th season in a row – a record. “If you take the whole 94 minutes then we were deserved winners,” summarised Heynckes. And so the players were able to get into the festive spirit with their fans after the final whistle.

“A big thank you for your outstanding support this year,” said Müller to the fans, who also played their part in helping the team to get over the line. “Merry Christmas, happy New Year and we’ll see each other in 2018. Now we’re off on holiday,” closed the goalscorer.

Bayern can now take a breather for 12 days before the start of the training camp in Qatar on 2 January. “As ever we have big ambitions for the second half of the season and we’re on track for all of them,” said Müller, who goes into the winter break tired but happy.

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