Created on 2018-01-13 at 12:45 PM by Redaktion
2018 could not have started much better for FC Bayern. After a short but very fruitful training camp in Doha the German record champions beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 in Friday's Bundesliga restart, laying down a marker in the championship. Arjen Robben, who was sidelined for seven weeks, and new signing Sandro Wagner, who returned to FCB, enjoyed successful comebacks.
"Our goals are ambitious, we've worked well from the first day of mid-season training, and you could tell that today. We played as a team and created lots of chances. I think the victory was deserved, and it's nice to start off this way," said Wagner, who came on in the closing stages. The new signing made his competitive comeback for FCB after ten years, four months and ten days and drew a "very, very positive conclusion."
Coach Jupp Heynckes was pleased too. "My team did a good job in terms of tactics for the most part today, especially in defence. Leverkusen were very attack-minded so all our forwards had to work defensively," analysed Heynckes. "My team did exactly what we had planned. The 3-1 victory is wonderful for us."
There's still room for improvement.
But the 72-year-old stressed that the victory over a "young, hungry and highly talented" team was "hard work." The 30,210 capacity crowd at the BayArena saw Javi Martínez open the scoring after the half-hour, Franck Ribéry doubling the lead after the interval. Kevin Volland pulled one back midway through the second half, raising his side's hopes, but James closed out the meeting with a sumptuous free-kick in injury time.
"We wanted to get off to a good start to the second half of the season and play well against opponents who had gone unbeaten in 12 matches. It's nice to start off with three points," said keeper Sven Ulreich, who had a rather quiet evening between the Bayern sticks. The victory means Bayern are 14 points clear of Schalke, who cross swords with RB Leipzig on Saturday evening.
"When we find our flow you can tell we don't only have a good or very good team but also a mature one," Heynckes praised his team. But the Bayern boss stressed that the comfortable cushion at the top of the standings is no reason to ease off. On the contrary, the Bavarians have to maintain their focus: "The players know I demand it again and again." Ulreich saw "room for improvement" after the successful restart: "We have to further improve over the next few weeks."