Bayern in Berlin: Title race, record chase and contract poker
BERLIN - Three points, no more and no less was the return for Bayern Munich at Union Berlin on Sunday and coach Hansi Flick was content if far from euphoric with the 2-0 win. Bayern have three topics to occupy their thoughts as they approach the rest of the season.
Thomas Mueller considered the four-point advantage to
Borussia Dortmund when the Bundesliga restarted in simple terms. "We
had nine games [left], we had to win eight," he said. "The goal is
quite clear. Today was the first step. That the match in Dortmund (on
May 26) will be decisive in that, is clear."
The top pair meet a week on Tuesday with Bayern knowing a win - or
even a draw - would keep them well on course for a record-extending
eighth successive championship.
But captain Manuel Neuer warned against focussing only on Dortmund as
title rivals. "Some things can still happen, you cannot write off any
team, especially when they are so strong as Leipzig," he said.
RB Leipzig, however, are seven points adrift in fourth with
Borussia Moenchengladbach six off the pace in third.
Coach Hansi Flick, meanwhile, is maintaining the classic approach -
one game at a time. "We play first against Eintracht Frankfurt (on
Saturday), everything else comes afterwards." He also demanded an
improvement throughout the team. "Every individual can do better,"
was his verdict on the first match back.
Robert Lewandowski has already scored 40 goals this
season. Bayern quickly updated his all-competition tally after he
opened the scoring from the spot in Berlin. But while the Polish
forward has struck in league, cup and Champions League this season,
Gerd Mueller's legendary 1971/72 campaign produced 40 goals in the
Chasing that mark would require Lewandowski to hit another 14 goals
in the remaining eight games, a rate which is difficult though not
impossible. "It will not be easy," said Flick, who thought his
team-mates could have provided more chances for the forward, who
returned from a leg injury, in Berlin. "Lewy made a very good
impression," the boss said. "He is top fit."
Neuer seemed doubtful when told chairman Karl-Heinz
Rummenigge was very optimistic contract negotiations with the keeper
would soon be resolved. Rummenigge confidently predicted the marriage
between player and club would hold despite talks dragging on.
In fairness Neuer too told Sky television he was optimistic things
would reach an amicable conclusion but retained an element of
caution. "I think Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is in the picture," he said.
But: "At the moment there is nothing to announce and I'll stick with