Bayern 'send out statement' with 1-0 success at Leipzig
Bayern were certainly not lacking motivation ahead of the top-of-the-table clash against RB Leipzig. But Hansi Flick wouldn't be the successful coach that he is if he didn't find ways to spur on his team even more. "We said to ourselves that it's a final. And we've shown we can do them over the last nine months," revealed the 56-year-old, explaining his psychological trick before the hard-fought 1-0 success against the second-placed Saxons. It had the desired effect, even though FCB of course know that, unlike a real final, nothing is decided yet.
'Big step' towards title
"It was a big step, but not yet the decisive one," said match-winner Leon Goretzka after the game, calculating that "there are still 21 points to give away". Captain Manuel Neuer did also not want to hear anything of an early decision in the title race, although in view of the seven-point lead that Bayern now have over Leipzig in table, he promised in no uncertain terms: "We don't want to have that taken away from us now!"
The Munich men had to work hard to put themselves in this comfortable position for the remaining stretch of the campaign. A look at the shots on goal statistic of 13-9 in favour of the hosts shows that Bayern's defensive qualities were particularly called on – and their effectiveness. After Goretzka's winning goal in the 38th minute, Leipzig "applied a lot of pressure and tied us up at the back well" in the second half, admitted Flick. His side stood firm, though! "It was a hard battle until the very end," reiterated Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, adding: "At the end of the day it was a very good performance by our team. We deserved this win."
Two-day breather before PSG clash
Bayern will now be hoping to carry on this success through the business end of the season. "Our big aim was to win the match in order to just send out a statement," said Flick. That will certainly have been heard by upcoming opponents Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Allianz Arena (kick-off 21:00 CEST). While Bayern proved once again that they deliver when it matters, the French serial champions surrendered top spot in Ligue 1 after a 1-0 defeat in their own top-of-the-table clash against Lille.
With this small psychological advantage, the German record champions will begin preparations for the Champions League cracker on Tuesday. A small group – including Alphonso Davies and Jérôme Boateng, who were suspended for Leipzig – were put through their paces at Säbener Straße on Sunday morning, but the majority of the squad have been given two days off after an energy-sapping Bundesliga showdown. "With a view to the weeks ahead, which will be very tough, it's good to have a breather now and then and clear the head," stated Flick.
The scorer of the only goal against RBL was Leon Goretzka: