Enjoying the moment, focused on the future
Joy, delight and elation were the dominant emotions in Frankfurt, but Sunday at the Säbener Strasse was to all intents and purposes normal: Saturday’s subs and unused players were out on the practice ground, with the starting eleven working on the treadmills and exercise bikes in the Performance Center. Had it not been for the four outside broadcast trucks transmitting live footage from the training facility, it would have been just another Sunday at the club. But it wasn't, of course, as Bayern had stormed to the Bundesliga title the previous afternoon in record time, at an earlier stage in the season than any other club in the league's 50 year history.
The sense of joy and relief at the final whistle was palpable, as the players danced and sang with the travelling supporters at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, hoisting coach Jupp Heynckes onto their shoulders. Franck Ribéry and Thomas Müller led the chanting from down on the pitch, while Dante swapped his shirt for a fan’s replica championship shield and set off with his substitute trophy, seemingly as delighted as if it were the real thing.
In the dressing room, music played and beers supplied by FCB partner Paulaner were happily consumed. Assistant coach Hermann Gerland seemed close to tears. “You can't describe how happy you feel. All I can say is that it feels really good," said board director for sport Matthias Sammer after his first title triumph with Bayern, sealed by a moment of Bastian Schweinsteiger magic in the 52nd minute of a tight 1-0 victory over stubborn Eintracht.
“I can hardly find the words to describe how fantastic I find this championship," a beaming Uli Hoeneß commented after the match. “In all the years I've been at FCB, I can't remember us being so outstanding and winning the league by such a massive margin six games from the end. It's a wonderful answer to the last two seasons," continued the FCB president. “The current team has huge character and great personalities. I'm very proud of the team and the coach."
Heynckes himself spoke of “a moving, emotional moment" as he celebrated winning the league title 23 years on from his previous success, also with Bayern in 1990. “It's not just that we’ve won lots of matches, it's the way we’ve played football. That's been exceptional" said the 67-year-old, “the way we're playing this year, I believe we could go all the way." Captain Philipp Lahm thought his fourth championship triumph was “almost a tiny bit better than the others. Knowing you've won the shield after 28 matches is a little bit special. No team’s managed that before, so we're utterly delighted."
Champagne on the plane
Champagne was served on the flight back to Munich as the players raised a glass to a milestone success. “You're a magnificent team and you've done an exceptional job. Cheers!" Said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in a brief speech on board the plane: “But do your celebrating at home! We have a job to do in Turin." The aircraft was greeted on touchdown in Munich by a water fountain sent up by the airport fire service, but that was it for the soggy showering normally associated with title triumphs in Germany, as the traditional showers of beer will be saved for a later date.
Instead, the focus immediately turned to Wednesday's Champions League clash. “We can postpone our party, but we can't postpone Juventus. The game will require all our energy and power," warned Sammer. The players should ask themselves a question, he continued: “Do we want more or do we not? Do we want the lot or only a little bit? That's the difference between good and great."
Determination and hunger
“We've hit our first major target, but if we want to crown the season we have to keep going," urged Hoeneß, “we now want to turn a super season into a super plus season. Not taking this chance of making the Champions League semi-finals, and then the cup final next week, would be fatal."
The players have taken note of the warning words issued by the senior figures at the club. “I sense they’re elated on the one hand, but on the other, they’re staying focused," explained Hoeneß. On Sunday, most of the players had arrived at the Säbener Strasse even before the stewards, whose shift begins at 9.30 am. “Everyone knows we still have big targets," offered Lahm. “Now we want more," declared Arjen Robben.