‘It was a great weekend for us'
We are Bayern! We are Munich! Come on you Reds!" rang out across the Allianz Arena on Saturday night after the 3-1 win against Schalke when the FC Bayern players celebrated with the fans. The team and supporters had an emotional afternoon before that. "We've taken a step forwards," declared Robert Lewandowski. A few hours earlier it didn't look so promising.
When Niko Kovac and his players arrived at the ground, Borussia Dortmund were leading against Hoffenheim. That meant there was a ten-point deficit when the players went from the team bus to the dressing room. On the way in they took in the words written in big white lettering on the red wall at the entrance. In addition to courage and respect were the terms motivation, determination and passion - symbolic for the later performance by FC Bayern.
Take the opportunity
It quickly became clear that Lewandowski & Co. were determined to win the game. As BVB threw away winning their match, there was the chance to reduce the deficit. "In the dressing room, we said we have to take this opportunity," revealed Leon Goretzka. From the kick-off, the record champions pressed Schalke back to their own box and they forced the visitors into making mistakes by being compact and pressing aggressively.
As in the 12th minute, when Thiago won the ball in the opposition half and James put Lewandowski through with a quick and accurate diagonal ball. The Poland international put both his opponents under pressure with the result that Jeffrey Bruma turned the ball into his own net for the opening goal. The Reds were now even more confident -- and that was not even affected by an equaliser completely out of the blue from Ahmed Kutucu (25'). The team stuck together and immediately found the right response.
Praise from the coach
In almost a carbon copy of the first strike, Lewandowski scored 104 seconds after the goal conceded to give FCB a fully deserved 2-1 lead at half-time (27') -- it was his 100th goal at the Allianz Arena. "I think we did really well in the first half," said Kovac in praising his team, who eased off somewhat in the second half but nevertheless remained in charge of the game. "We had a good game. After 120 minutes (in the DFB Cup game on Wednesday, ed.) it was important for us to win," said the coach.
It is not an excuse but as the game went on it was evident the Bayern players had had to fight hard and long in Berlin. That enabled Schalke to have chances on goal but, "I didn't feel we'd concede a second goal. On the contrary: We should have scored a couple more," added Kovac. And his team did that on 57 minutes when Serge Gnabry headed in and overhead assist from Lewandowski.
Important for the future
The game ended in a 3-1 victory and the deficit to BVB reduced to five points. As Gladbach lost against Hertha, FCB move up to second place in the table. "It was a great weekend for us," declared a happy president Uli Hoeneß. "That was mentally enormously important as seven points is completely different from five," said Joshua Kimmich in ranking the result of his 100th Bundesliga appearance -- all in a Bayern shirt. "Overall I'm happy with the week," said Kovac. But Bayern do not want to take anything for granted. "It was a good step. We are looking to win our games. We want to start a run," declared Hasan Salihamidzic looking forward to the next challenge.
After the defeat away to Leverkusen, FC Bayern showed the right reaction and have now won eight of the last nine games. "I think we're in good form. We're strong in terms of running, tactically in good shape and we've improved our game," said Kovac who is looking to confirm that impression in Augsburg. FCB are in action there on Friday. Together with the fans, they are looking for the next three points. "Come on you Reds, fight and win," will hopefully ring out from the stands again.