BERLIN - Bayern Munich breathed a
collective sigh of relief after booking a Champions League group
stage spot with a 3-0 aggregate win over FC Zurich, taking the
first step to what they hope will end with an appearance in the
competition's final in Munich next year.
Bayern made sure of their place in Europe's premier club
competition with a 1-0 win in Zurich on Tuesday following their
2-0 first leg win at home last week.
"A huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders because
this is where Bayern belongs," said Bayern sports director
The record German champions only narrowly clinched third
spot in the league last season, leaving them having to play off
for a group spot and some jittery nerves as they are desperate
for a good run in the competition with the final to be held on
home turf next year.
Failure to qualify would also translate into a loss of 20
million euros in revenues.
"We have been feeling the pressure on the club and players
in the past few weeks but we have now taken that crucial first
step," Nerlinger told reporters.
Striker Mario Gomez's seventh minute strike quickly settled
any nerves and put the game essentially out of the Swiss team's
reach with the hosts needing four goals to advance.
Bayern, under new coach Jupp Heynckes, have yet to concede a
goal in four consecutive league and European games this season.
"After our goal, we were not nervous any more because
defensively we are a very good team and allow little to happen
in the back," Heynckes said. "It may have looked easy but we
played very good football."
This is exactly what club bosses have been asking Heynckes
to do as they eye a Champions League final spot in front of a
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal was sacked late last season with
the team's defensive operation looking more like Swiss cheese
than traditional German steel.
"We wanted that early goal to settle our nerves and for the
rest of the game we followed through exactly like we should do,"
said scorer Gomez.
The four-time European champions will now wait to find out
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