It's hard to believe, but it all started with blue and white, for those were the club colours chosen by the founding fathers when they met to form FC Bayern Munich on 27 February 1900. Just a day short of 112 years later, a game against a team in blue and white marked a fresh start. “It's a first step in the right direction," declared Christian Nerlinger following Sunday's 2-0 victory over Schalke. The result means FCB, who have now played in a variant of red and white for fully 106 years, recovered second place in the Bundesliga, “and gave the right answer," as Nerlinger put it, to two substandard performances against Freiburg and Basel.
“We were in a troubled situation," opined the Bayern director of sport, “but our fighting spirit and our football were totally convincing today. The games against Freiburg and Basel have made the team rediscover the right routines. They've pulled themselves together, and come together too."
‘All for one and one for all’ is the instruction issued by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge for the rest of the current campaign, and the players treated the Allianz Arena crowd to a superb interpretation of that rallying call. “We have great footballers, but they have to work together. It has to be like clockwork," commented Jupp Heynckes, “you have to be prepared to do the dirty work, and all my players have done that today. None of them was above getting stuck in and putting in defensive work. This is the path we have to follow."
Much to discuss
In the build-up to Sunday's match, Heynckes conducted a series of face-to-face conversations and team talks. “You could see we were a little less burdened, because maybe we got a few things off our minds," mused Manuel Neuer, “I hope that was the spark which gets us going on a run." Jerome Boateng succinctly summed up the main reason for Sunday's success: “We played as a team, that was the key to victory."
In their best performance since the turn of the year, Bayern outplayed the fourth-placed visitors for practically the full 90 minutes. Man of the match Franck Ribéry scored either side of half-time to settle the issue. “The score flatters Schalke," said Uli Hoeneß, “the right result would have been something like 4-1 or 5-1. We were very flexible and created an incredible number of chances. The only problem was that we only scored twice from ten clear-cut openings."
However, a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal was the only minor flaw on an otherwise excellent afternoon. “I'm totally satisfied," the club president said, “I hope the team has rediscovered the belief that was to a certain extent lost. If we play like that, we needn't worry about anything."
“The match showed the way forward for the whole team," said Heynckes, calling for the stars to carry on where they left off against Schalke in the trip to Leverkusen next Saturday. Nerlinger was in full agreement: “We need to maintain this stability for the rest of the season. We need exactly this attitude, and if so, we'll hit our targets. I'm sure of that."