Praise for youngsters
Sun, 29/04/18, 13:06
Bayern gear up for Madrid
The Champions League clash with Real Madrid was probably still on the minds of a few players, but Bayern once again proved on Saturday afternoon how well they can focus on the here and now. A much-changed side restored their confidence with a 4-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, thanks in no small part to four youngsters who impressed on their debuts at the Allianz Arena.
“I was already feeling nervous on the bus,” admitted centre-back Lukas Mai, who made his home debut having made his first-team bow at Hannover last weekend and signed a professional contract during the week. “When you walk out and see 75,000 people, it’s quite something.” It’s something that Franck Evina, Meritan Shabani and Niklas Dorsch also discovered as they made their competitive debuts for the Reds.
“I’m extremely proud,” declared Dorsch after the match. The 20 year-old gave Bayern the lead in the 43rd minute, becoming the first German since Thomas Kastenmaier in 1989 to score on their debut for the club! The assist came from Sandro Wagner. “He said: “get in the box and I’ll put you through!” It’s the sort of thing you discuss before the game,” revealed Dorsch. And Wagner commented: “He’s a young player, I wanted to give him a sense of achievement and it worked.”
Salihamidzic proud of youngsters
“I’m very proud of the boys,” said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic in praise of the four youngsters. “We saw that we have good young players. They justified their selection. Credit must also go to our youth coaches, who have been working hard with the boys for many years. It’s a testament to their work.” Niklas Süle also paid tribute to the quartet. “It’s not easy to produce a performance like that in front of 75,000 fans.”
The victory also had significance for the tricky semi-final second leg at Real Madrid. “It was important that we showed a reaction after Wednesday,” added Wagner, who netted the second goal to go along with his assist for the first. Defenders Rafinha and Süle capped things off with two late goals. “Now we’ll go to Madrid feeling positive,” declared Süle. “In the first leg we saw that we have nothing to fear. It’ll be an extremely difficult match but we have the quality to pull it off.”
“Determined to turn it around”
“The last two goals were a real boost,” explained captain Thomas Müller, who watched the whole game from the bench. “We all know we’ll need to be at our best, but we also know what we’re capable of. We need to take this positive feeling to Madrid.” Wagner is also backing the team spirit in the squad – and can hardly wait for the game at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. “We’ve vowed to give it everything we have. I’m looking forward to it; I’d play right now if we could!”
Joshua Kimmich is also excited by the challenge: “If you’re not fired up there, then you probably shouldn’t be playing football. We’re determined to turn it around. I’m extremely fired up.” Müller, meanwhile, stated that Bayern will approach the game “constructively”. “We want to be brave going forward. We want to finally shake off the respect that we keep showing in these games. Then the ball will cross the line.” Müller also referred to the fact he’s never scored against Real in his career: “It’s about time.”