Having found the net in Matchday 2’s 1-1 draw with the record titleholders on home soil, the Royal Blues’ captain was on hand once again to head home the all-important equaliser on Tuesday, ensuring the Allianz Arena encounter ended with the same scoreline. Not since the 2004/05 campaign, when Schalke won both league encounters 1-0, had the Gelsenkirchen club taken points off Bayern in two league fixtures in a single season.
Talking after the match, the 26-year-old explained why picking up a point despite having a man advantage for 73 minutes was a success, what advice he gave to debutant goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther and spoke about hopes for Friday’s upcoming clash with Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Question: Benedikt Höwedes, are you pleased with picking up a point?
Benedikt Höwedes: When we’re playing in Munich, we always have to be pleased with a 1-1 scoreline, even if this time we had a numerical advantage for such a lengthy period. Of course we could have been a bit braver in one or two situations, but overall we can be satisfied with a point. Unfortunately we missed a penalty - going 1-0 ahead could have allowed us to defend a comfortable situation. However, we still managed to grab an equaliser after going behind [through Arjen Robben’s header].
Question: Were you surprised that Roberto Di Matteo didn’t make any alterations despite Bayern having Jerome Boateng sent off?
Höwedes: I didn’t have a problem with the decision. It was important to make sure that we held our shape and avoided conceding for as long as possible. Bayern may have had ten men, but we can’t forget that they are still FC Bayern München. They have unbelievably talented individuals up front and are always incredibly dangerous. We still managed to carve out one or two dangerous situations of our own, which we unfortunately didn’t make the most of.
'I told Timon not to be nervous'
Question: Is it still frustrating for you that in the end it wasn’t enough to win it?
Höwedes: We could have been more courageous on at times, but we’re playing on foreign soil against the German record titleholders, against whom very few teams have walked away with a share of the spoils. Wolfsburg picked up all three points on Friday, but here in Munich, no team had previously managed to take points off FC Bayern this season.
Question: Third-choice goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther had to replace the injured Fabian Giefer at half time. As team captain, did you have a few words for the young debutant before taking to the pitch?
Höwedes: I had a few words of encouragement for him. I told him not to be nervous and to simply play his own game. He did that fantastically and was certainly not intimidated by the situation. Our defensive unit made his job easier for him because we didn’t allow Bayern too many clear-cut chances, but he made some great saves when those chances did present themselves. He made an impressive debut.
Question: On Friday you’re set to take on Borussia Mönchengladbach, who currently sit in third place. Would a win be the perfect end to the Englische Woche?
Höwedes: We’re definitely hoping to get a win against Gladbach. We’re playing at home against a fellow contender for the Champions League qualification spots. We need to ensure that we can keep pace at the top of the table. The game away to Bayern was a good step in the right direction. It would be great to build on that with a win on Friday.
Maximilian Lotz reporting from the Allianz Arena