FC Bayern start 2013 strongly

The New Year began as well as the old had concluded. FC Bayern Munich performed brilliantly with their first victories in January. At their training camp in Qatar the Bavarians not only collected new strength to finally end in 2013 their run without titles. The team coached by Jupp Heynckes also sent clear signals to their competitors about how strongly they can and will play. Eleven days prior to the start of the second half of the Bundesliga season, when the German record-winning champions will meet newcomers SpVgg Greuther Fuerth at home at Allianz Arena (January 19), the Bundesliga table-topping club thrashed FC Schalke 04 5-0 in a friendly match in Doha. Thomas Mueller (9th/20th minute), Mario Mandzukic (33rd/43rd) and half-time substitute Mario Gomez (63rd) scored the goals in an encounter in which the Bavarians played a perfect first half. The German national runners-up had also won their first training match of the year four days previously by defeating Lekhwiya SC, a professional team from Qatar’s capital Doha, 4-0.

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Joy expressed by FC Bayern Munich (from left Mandzukic, Dante, Ribery, Alaba, Schweinsteiger) after a 5-0 win over Schalke 04 at a training camp in Qatar. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)


The players, coaching staff, sports director Matthias Sammer and the crew of leaders appear keen to show that everything will be done better in 2013 than in 2012. Second place in the Bundesliga behind Dortmund, though with a top point tally, losing finalists in the Champions League to Chelsea FC, runners-up in the DFB Cup behind Dortmund, did not meet the high standards demanded of FC Bayern, long spoiled by success. In the second half of 2012 the Bavarians were again at the top. They are leading in the Bundesliga with a nine-point advantage from Leverkusen, and 12 points ahead of their new arch rivals Dortmund. The team have reached the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup and the second round of the Champions League.

Sammer warns: As yet nothing has been won

In the national Cup competition, Bayern are facing a great duel and repeat of last year’s final against Borussia Dortmund on February 27. In the Champions League Arsenal FC, with the German internationals Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker, are the next opponents for the Bavarians – in London on February 19 and at home on March 13. “We have to prove that we are rightly ranked second behind Barcelona in the UEFA rankings”, said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the club’s Chairman of the Board, after the draw.

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Sports director Matthias Sammer critically watched every practice unit of FC Bayern Munich in Doha.(Photo: Firo/Augenklick)


The training camp in the small country on the Persian Gulf, where the 2022 World Cup finals will take place, went very well. Coach Heynckes described the gala performance on January 8 against Schalke, slightly weakened by injuries, as a “reflection” of the successful preparation for the second leg of the Bundesliga, which will hopefully end on May 18 at the latest with them winning the German championship. The Champions League crown will be at stake at Wembley Stadium in London the following week, the DFB Cup final will take place in Berlin on June 1. Sammer, as well as Heynckes, reviewed the training in Qatar as a good start of the year, but a view towards the end of the season was too far for the 45-year-old. “The message is: The first step has been taken. We may be happy with the basics”, said the sports director. But nothing has yet been achieved. Sammer claimed they would have to work for consistent top performances, as at the start of the season, for the next five months.

Defender Kirchhoff joins Munich from Mainz

“If we continue to stay focussed, it will be hard to stop us”, said captain Philipp Lahm. “We have rebuilt our strength for the second leg”, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer disclosed. “There are not many teams we have to fear. We have already proven that”, said Bastian Schweinsteiger, who rediscovered his best form in the first leg.

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Schweinsteiger has returned to the starring role in the “defensive midfield” with the commendation “International Class” in the rankings of the German football magazine “Kicker”, accepted by players, coaches, experts and many fans as proof of form in the previous six months.

Other Munich players also awarded International Class were Dante, in central defence, Lahm (defensive wing) and Franck Ribery (offensive wing). The latter even received the evaluation World Class. Toni Kroos had to be content with second place (International Class) behind Dortmund’s Mario Goetze (World Class) in the offensive midfield category. Bayern’s best attacker was Mandzukic (International Class) in fifth place. Manuel Neuer’s evaluation seems questionable, as he should have been only the fourth-best Bundesliga goalkeeper.

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Brazilian Dante shows his power in the air during the 4-0 win in a friendly match against the Doha team Lekhwiya SC. In the background Spaniard Javi Martinez. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

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Arjen Robben surrounded by journalists and fans in Qatar. The Dutchman played his first matches in Doha after a lengthy injury. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)


Competition within the Munich squad is tight, particularly when Arjen Robben is fully fit again. But in defence Holger Badstuber will be missing for a long time. Sammer has made the first transfer for the 2013-14 season early during the winter break. Jan Kirchhoff of 1.FSV Mainz 05, courted by several clubs, has decided on the Bavarians. The 22-year-old central defender is considered a very promising talent, not just because of his 1.95m height. Kirchhoff could join Bayern in January, when the transfer money would be due.