Focus turns to fine tuning and freshness
Bayern open the second half of their Bundesliga campaign at home to promoted Greuther Fürth on Saturday. Jupp Heynckes will begin supervising the last few training sessions of the mid-season period on Tuesday, with the players taking a final rest day on Monday after the punishing schedule of the last two weeks. “It's cost us strength. We need to regain our freshness," the coach said on Sunday evening.
Heynckes was speaking after a 2-0 friendly victory away to Unterhaching. FCB's previous warm-up matches also ended in wins, 3-0 away to Basel, 5-0 against Schalke, and 4-0 against Qatari champions Lekhwiya SC. Munich are certainly in good form, but Matthias Sammer still feels there is room for improvement. “We mustn't let ourselves be deceived," the board director for sport said on national TV, as he identified areas for criticism: “I'm not happy with everything I've seen."
Sammer will tolerate no complacency or carelessness at this stage of the season, demanding full concentration from the players against Fürth and in the two matches after that, league trips to Stuttgart and Mainz. “I'm pleased Sammer isn't praising everything to the skies. He has really good intuition," responded keeper Tom Starke. The Munich defence wobbled at times during Sunday's meeting with third division Unterhaching, although Heynckes sent out a completely reshuffled side, causing a few understandable communication problems in certain situations.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, who came up against his brother Tobias for the first time in his career on Sunday, also called for improvement: “We can't be allowing our opponents so many simple chances." That is another area which Heynckes will be working on over the next few days. On the plus side, and with the exception of long-term absentee Holger Badstuber (sports rehab after cruciate ligament surgery), the entire squad is fit and available for selection.
Robben raring to go
Arjen Robben, Luiz Gustavo and Emre Can, who were all sidelined with injury in the run-up to Christmas, have recovered full fitness. “It's already going surprisingly well. I'm back again," commented Arjen, the unofficial man of the match on Sunday evening. The restart fixture against Fürth can hardly come soon enough for Robben and his team-mates: “We’re all fired up," he said.