Bayern look forward with optimism
FC Bayern continue on course for the Round of 16 in the Champions League. After the deserved but hard-fought 2-0 win away to Greek champions AEK Athens, the record champions are level on points at the halfway stage in Group E with Ajax who won their home game against Benfica 1-0 with a late goal. Another win against AEK in the return match in two weeks at the Allianz Arena could seal progress to the knockout stage.
"First of all, I would like to thank the team and the coach for the win. I believe it’s an important step towards our target of qualifying for the Round of 16," said chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in his speech at the post-match banquet at the team hotel in the Greek capital. “We can be very optimistic going forward. It’s looking good,” said Rummenigge in confident mood after the second away win in the group stage.
Coach Niko Kovac described the 90 hard-fought minutes in front of a 61,221 crowd at the almost completely sold out Olympic Stadium as a "game of patience". The hosts proved to be a tough and defensively well organised opponent for much of the game. "The Greeks are well known for not giving away many chances. You can't go to Athens and expect to win 4-0 or 5-0. First of all you have to find the space. Other teams will find it difficult here," said Kovac after the "expectedly tough game".
Nevertheless his team, with just one change from the side that won 3-1 at Wolfsburg at the weekend, dominated proceedings for the full 90 minutes. "We played very well and controlled the opposition and we move the ball very well," said Kovac. The only downside for FCB was converting chances for the first hour with an absence of determination and accuracy before Javi Martinez and Robert Lewandowski set the record champions on course for victory with two goals in 120 seconds in the middle of the second half.
„"Three points – and on we go"”
"It's important somebody makes the breakthrough and scores," declared Thomas Müller. AEK “fought hard for a long time but we should have scored in the first half. Overall, we lived up to our role as favourites. Three points – and on we go. We did a decent job but it wasn’t spectacular,” said Müller in assessing the win against the as yet pointless Greek team.
Joshua Kimmich shared that analysis. “As long as we win games it doesn’t matter to me if we’re brilliant or not. We have played brilliantly or well and ended up losing. That doesn’t get us anywhere. At the end of the day, only the three points count and that’s always the target.” The team “dug out” the win against AEK and that is why the right-back said the result was “definitely okay. ”
“If you win, your confidence grows and grows. If you lose games then it’s a skill to remain calm. You always have to have confidence in your own ability and just work hard,” was the assessment of Arjen Robben after the second win in succession with more on the way hopefully. “We want to start a run and if possible win all the games up to the winter break. We have the quality and we want to carry on as we are.”
Saturday brings the “next challenge in the Bundesliga” (Rummenigge) when FCB play away at FSV Mainz 05. “We have to try to get a bit closer to the top of the table. It won’t be an easy game,” predicted the FCB chairman. Niko Kovac was definitely “satisfied” with his second away fixture in the Champions League. “I saw lot of good things today.”