FCB take 'first step in a crucial week'
Thomas Müller put it in a nutshell on his way from the pitch to the locker room: “Big points! These are big points,” the attacking all-rounder said before taking a shower after 90 hard-fought minutes at the Volkswagen Arena. The German record champions won 2-0 away to cup holders VfL Wolfsburg, making a successful start to “one of the most important weeks of the season,” according to Pep Guardiola.
“The victory was very, very important for us today. We absolutely wanted the three points,” said David Alaba after Saturday's encounter between the two remaining German Champions League hopefuls. “There are easier away matches, and it's a decisive week for us with games against Wolfsburg, Mainz and away to Dortmund. So it was crucial to start with three points in Wolfsburg,” added Philipp Lahm.
Reds wrap things up with double strike
Four days after the intense match against Juventus in Turin the 30,000 capacity crowd at the Volkswagen Arena saw the Bavarians dominate the game from the start, but fail to turn their advantage into goals. “We started very well, but then didn't attack resolutely enough,” analysed Guardiola. Wolfsburg resisted the red tide increasingly effectively before the interval, missing promising scoring chances themselves.
“You have to make use of your chances, that's the only way to be successful against Bayern,” stressed Wolfsburg chief executive Klaus Allofs, “but we didn't score at the decisive moments.” Unlike FC Bayern, who upped the tempo in the second half and eventually profited from their individual class. Kingsley Coman (66) and striker Robert Lewandowski (74) wrapped things up with a double strike after the hour mark.
Franck Ribéry, coming on as a sub, added “decisive impetus” in the Bayern attacking unit, as Lahm declared after the match. “Franck was injured for a very, very long time, but he helped us a huge amount today,” the FCB skipper explained, calling it “luck to have such outstanding subs.” His coach joined in the chorus of praise for the French winger, who played a major role in both goals: “He was crucial with his quality in one-on-ones.”
The large squad could be Bayern's trump card in the race for three trophies over the coming weeks. “We're in a run of midweek games, so it's important that as many players as possible return. Decisive weeks are ahead of us, so we need every player,” stressed Lahm, speaking of a “tough programme” with regard to the matches against Mainz on Tuesday and away to chief competitors Dortmund on Saturday.
“It was a first step in a crucial week,” added Arjen Robben. With two more victories the Reds could take “a giant stride” towards a fourth championship title in a row, explained Lahm. “Our goal is to travel to Dortmund with at least an eight-point lead and go on to win there. Then we're 11 points clear, and that's sets us well on our way. Then it'll be very, very hard to catch up with us.”