Leverkusen - It wasn't FC Bayern Munich at their all-conquering best, but the Bavarians' 2-1 win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Saturday afternoon was the perfect response to Wednesday's lackustre display against Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League.
Head coach Jupp Heynckes will be especially pleased with another victory, after ringing in the changes and giving Dutch international Arjen Robben just his seventh Bundesliga start of the season. Following the game, the 29-year-old spoke about the rotation, the team's character and a potentially dangerous cushion at the top of the table.
Question: Arjen Robben, congratulations on the win, what's your opinion of how this match played out?
Arjen Robben: It was a totally different game to the Arsenal match. We had several new faces on the field, but we wanted to prove ourselves again and we went into the game with the necessary aggression. In Leverkusen, we’ve beaten the third-placed side 2-1 away from home, so you’ve got to be happy with that.
Question: What do you make of Uli Hoeneß‘ comments that the team hadn't been playing to the best of its abilities recently?
Arjen Robben: I think it was good. That’s why he’s president, and I think he’s right. We’ve got to be self-critical. If something’s not good, then we’ve got to talk about it. There’s been a lot of praise from everybody in recent weeks with words like ‘world class’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘wonderful’ being used, but you’ve always got another game to come.
Question: Was this Bayern back to their best?
Arjen Robben: It’s hard to say because we played with a much-changed side. It may not have been the greatest of games, but we dominated from the beginning. We fought more in the second half and didn't play as much football as we normally do, but we got a lucky break in the end and we won.
Question: Were you surprised by the rotation, and was it maybe a bit risky?
Arjen Robben: I was a little bit surprised and didn’t expect it. We all trained together on Friday, then suddenly there were a few players missing when we left. But it’s the coach’s decision.
Question: How did Bayern’s second string perform today?
Arjen Robben: I don’t like the term 'second string' because all of the players deserve respect and we are all important. Of course there were changes to give those who have not played so regularly some action, and when you win, it’s all good.
Question: How are you coping physically with the amount of action you are getting lately?
Arjen Robben: This was only the second time all season that I’ve played two games in three days. It was a real battle to recover fully after the Champions League game and that’s something you have to get used to. When you’re in the thick of the action, you don’t really notice it. It’s good for me to get into this rhythm again.
Question: But you would like to have completed the 90 minutes...
Arjen Robben: That’s not important. The coach made that choice and in the end we won the game, so it’s fine.
Question: You have a huge cushion at the top of the table. Coach Jupp Heynckes rested the likes of Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery, Thomas Müller and Mario Mandzukic. Is that an indication that you’re now focusing more on the Champions League?
Arjen Robben: Of course we can be happy with a 20-point cushion, but we must not lose our focus due to this big advantage and we’ve got to keep our concentration in the coming weeks.
Question: Are there any players in particular who are trying to keep the focus in the squad high, particularly in view of the important Champions League games coming up...
Arjen Robben: At the end of the day, we’re all doing it together. Our captain Philipp Lahm takes the lead, and there are a few other players who take the responsibility, but overall, the team has a really good character.
Question: What do you make of your next opponents in Europe, Juventus FC?
Arjen Robben: Juve are a team with very experienced players, so it’s going to be a tough challenge for us.
Markus Hoffmann reporting from Leverkusen