Grit and resolve see Bayern past Hertha
A thoroughly successful week ended on a winning note and threw up a hero. In FC Bayern's Champions League match last Tuesday in Liverpool, Javi Martínez was "the foundation of our good defending," as Niklas Süle put it. On Saturday in the Bundesliga, the midfielder showed another dimension to his game. His headed goal in the 62nd minute secured a narrow 1-0 home win against Hertha BSC, through which the record champions drew level with Borussia Dortmund on points, at least until Sunday.
"Javi’s made it a great week. Not only for himself, but also for the team," coach Niko Kovac enthused. "The fact that he scored the winning goal today and is also running and fighting hard is what distinguishes him. He's a very important player for us," Süle added. And sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic even called Martínez "Player of the Week". The 30-year-old is "a great guy, a positive lad, who always has a good attitude and has thrown himself into it this week. I'm very happy with how he’s done."
High praise for the defensive specialist who, after the match against Hertha, ran across the pitch at the sold-out Allianz Arena in delight, accompanied by son Luca, and joined the fans to celebrate with the rest of the players. "All I want to do is help my team. Today it was with a goal, another time with work and toil. I’m happy," the man of the day modestly said afterwards.
Intensive week for mind and body
Four days after the exhausting game in Liverpool, the meeting on Saturday with Hertha BSC was "a question of will," according to Kovac. Determination was necessary to defeat the awkward team from Berlin after four consecutive league games without a victory against them. "We’ve not looked good in recent years against Hertha BSC, always dropping points. Today we didn’t shine, but because of the chances we had it was still a deserved victory," Kovac summarised.
Again and again the visitors pressed Munich early, disturbed their build-up play and kept the Bavarians away from their own goal for long spells. "Hertha BSC did very well, we had no flow in the first half," Kovac reflected. "Of course it wasn’t the most beautiful game the Allianz Arena has ever seen. But basically it was important that we won and put in a good defensive performance again. That was crucial today," said captain Manuel Neuer.
Two games, one win, one draw and no goal against was Bayern’s creditable record at the end of an "intensive week. We had to invest a lot in the games," Neuer said. "It's not only exhausting for the body, but much, much more for the mind when you play games like these," Süle agreed. That's why Kovac gave his players "an extra day off to recover. Then we'll start again on Tuesday."