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2-0 against Al-Merrikh

Bayern start 2014 on winning note

The New Year has begun as the old one ended with a win for club world champions Bayern. As part of their mid-season training camp in Doha the Reds played their first friendly of 2014 on Thursday evening against Omdurman-based Al-Merrikh SC, the reigning Sudanese champions. After 90 one-sided minutes the Bundesliga giants defeated their stubborn opponents 2–0 courtesy of a 35th-minute opener from youngster Julian Green and a second-half Claudio Pizarro strike on 53 minutes.

The 6,543 crowd at the home ground used by Al-Sadd, whose biggest name player is former Real stalwart Raul, saw a total of 21 Bayern stars in action after Pep Guardiola swapped out all his outfield players at half-time. Only keeper Tom Starke covered the full 90 minutes. The world’s best goalkeeper Manuel Neuer remained on the bench, with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben and Holger Badstuber not in the squad as they continue sports rehab programmes.

The fact the Reds have been training hard for the last few days and completed a punishing workout in the morning was obvious from the start. A few legs were understandably heavy and Munich were never likely to ignite any attacking fireworks. FCB still dominated the game at will and pieced together a number of flowing moves. One of these led to Green’s 35th-minute opener when the German-American reserve striker latched onto a Mario Götze through ball and fired home from 12 yards. Xherdan Shaqiri, central striker for the day Franck Ribéry, Green again and Götze came closest to adding further goals.

The Munich line-up for the second period included reserve hopefuls Ylli Sallahi and Alessandro Schöpf, who played their part as the UEFA Champions League winners sought to break down the defensive Sudanese champions. Pizarro netted the second with a shot on the turn eight minutes after the restart following a skilful headed knockdown by Mario Mandzukic, who was poised to add a third just two minutes later only for Al-Merrikh’s outstanding keeper Akram El Hadi Salim to make a good save. FCB declined to put away a number of good openings after that as the score remained 2–0 through to the close.