FCB happy with 'great performance’ at Anfield
Joy but no euphoria: FC Bayern have taken a first big step in the race to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals. The 0-0 draw in the first leg against last season's finalists Liverpool on Tuesday puts the record champions in a very good position for the return match at the Allianz Arena on 13 March. After the game there was great satisfaction in the Munich camp but no sense of exuberance.
"There wasn't a party atmosphere in the dressing room and I was pleased about that. The team knows we can expect a difficult game in Munich," said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. After a "great, emotional Champions League night," the chairman was satisfied with the state of play halfway through the tie with the Reds. "With this result, we've opened the door for the second leg, and know we have to see that we go through in three weeks."
Kovac unbeaten in the Champions League
In front of a packed 52,250 crowd at Anfield, the game did not live up to expectations of a great night of Champions League football. Instead, the tactics in the meeting of two top European teams resulted in an evenly-balanced encounter for 90 minutes. Both teams avoided taking risks as nobody wanted to make a possibly decisive mistake. FC Bayern impressed with a disciplined and concentrated team performance.
"I can only congratulate the team. The coach set the team up brilliantly, they did well to put that into effect on the pitch and they really earned this great result," declared Rummenigge. Niko Kovac was also positive about his team. "We produced a really great performance here today against top opponents," said the Bayern coach, who remains unbeaten after his seventh game in charge in Europe's premier club competition.
Strong defensive performance by the whole team
"There are not many clubs who haven't lost or not conceded here. The team succeeded in not giving much away at the back. That shows we've played at a very high level," added Kovac. The hosts' highly-rated attack had more chances than Bayern, but only two shots on target on Manuel Neuer's goal demonstrated a "very good performance by the whole team," declared Kovac.
That was underlined by the captain of the record champions who was only really tested with an early effort by Mo Salah and a flying header from Sadio Mané in the closing stages. "You could see we really set out not to concede. It was a great sign," said Neuer who was "not unhappy" with the result. "It was basically a very good defensive performance. We've all done a good job," he added.
100 percent required
And central defender Mats Hummels was also happy with the performance: "We were very disciplined. It was important that we played as a group and thought defensively in various positions. It was mainly about cutting out the strengths of our opponents and we succeeded in doing that." The only setback from an FCB perspective was a booking for Joshua Kimmich, his third in the current competition. That means the right back and Thomas Müller will miss the second leg.
Bayern headed home to Munich on Wednesday in good spirits with the third 0-0 draw after 1971 and 1981, in the knowledge that they face a tough second leg in the return match. "We haven't achieved anything yet. We take the result but remain modest, focused and we have to perform at 100 percent again," said Kovac. Rummenigge warned against going into the game in Munich with "too much euphoria. It's not a result where you can take the second leg for granted. We need another very good game in Munich."