After fighting Werder Bremen for three points on Saturday, the players acknowledged the difficulty of the match and of the contest that lies immediately ahead on Wednesday. The match-winner, Niklas Süle, was very happy that he provided the much-needed winning goal as Bayern ratched up the pressure (from AZ):
We had a lot of chances today, but Bremen had a very good goalkeeper, we played too slowly in the first half, but it was also very hot [laughs]. At halftime we sat down and thought about what we could do better, and we did a good job of doing that, so of course the red card was a big factor and then we were able to play even better. I was very close to the penalty box, which shows you how high we were defending. Nevertheless, we allowed almost nothing; the rest of defense was very good. In the end, I’m glad I could help secure three points with my goal.
The next game, of course, is Wednesday’s DFB Pokal clash, again against Werder Bremen. Süle expects a totally different game! He anticipates an intimidating atmosphere, but has a special personal interest in the team’s success. Süle said,
I think it will be a completely different game on Wednesday. The atmosphere in Weserstadion is very heated; Werder has positively crazy fans. We have to be focused and play dominantly from the very first minute, just as we did in the second half today. I’ll keep my fingers crossed from home. The Pokal has a very, very high priority for me. If we win it, then I will have won everything there is to win in Germany. That’s why last year’s loss against Frankfurt in the final was very frustrating. Berlin is an amazing experience. I hope we can experience it again this year.
Leon Goretzka meanwhile was unsatisfied with the team’s first half performance. He said,
Too lethargic, too little pace, we let the ball go too slow and occupied the wrong spaces. We did better in the second half.
Leon praised Jiří Pavlenka’s performance, but he now has his mind set on Wednesday’s clash:
If there are enough analysts in our team, the coaching staff will look at the game again and both teams will draw their own insights. Bremen did well in the first half, and I do not think that they will change their style very much. Bremen will try to change things that did not go so well in the second half. Both teams will draw their findings.
But Goretzka was not pleased with how Bayern won and felt that there is much room for improvement. Goretzka added,
We have to see what we did not do well today. In a few phases of the first half we were not quite so good, so you can certainly learn something from it. The bottom line is that we’re happy that we won the game — that’s the main task and the purpose of playing football. Especially when it comes to titles, the results count, but we must not be satisfied with the performance of the first half!
Hasan Salihamidzic also commented the game, in particular on how Werder played well and managed to close Bayern’s attacks. Brazzo said,
A good horse jumps only as high as it has to [laughs]. The first half was difficult. Bremen is a very good team; they are doing a very good job and playing a good season. It was difficult to get into the match today. The first half was not good, but in the second half we took the game into our own hands, applied a lot of pressure, and had the most shots per goal of the season [in the Bundesliga] in the second half. We did not allow chances; we did not face any shots on the goal and had 28 shots of our own.
When asked about the most difficult opponent in the last few weeks of the Bundesliga, he answered:
I’m just looking at the next game. In the final phase you have to be careful, that you only concentrate on the next game. Now the Bundesliga is not the main priority, but the cup match in Bremen.
Transfer tips, by the by
We already gained insight in what Renato Sanches told about his future. His full comment to the press included far more context about coach Niko Kovač and their relationship than initial reports suggested:
I think a loan is possible. I have to play more, five minutes is not enough. When I play, I want to enjoy it. That’s the most important thing for me. We will see what happens. I just want to play more, whether in Portugal, England, or Spain. The coach and teammates know how hard I work every day in training. I always have to be ready, even if I only play for five minutes. My relationship with Niko Kovač is normal. He is the coach; I am a player. I respect him. I’m ready to play, and I’m waiting for more time. I am 21 years old and have 15 years to go before my career is over. It’s hard at the moment, but the future is sure to be positive.
Speaking of new transfer rumors, the name of Schalke’s newly minted first-goalkeeper Alex Nübel was also mentioned a few times. Hasan Salihamidzic was tight-lipped:
I find it funny how many players are always associated with us. I will not comment on that anymore.
Sven Ulreich was also there to answer questions from journalists. He agreed with most of things about the match that his teammates already said. But an interesting question was asked — does he enjoy the suspense of the title race? Ulreich replied,
It’s nice if you can play the last games calmly and knowing that you are already Meister. But it is also nice — the tingling and the tension before the games, because they are always finals. Of course, the emotions and the focus on the games are even higher, as it may have been in recent years.