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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Owen Hargreaves column
Owen Hargreaves' Bayern Munich are fourth in the Bundesliga
By Owen Hargreaves
England and Bayern Munich midfielder

On Saturday, Bayern Munich lost 2-0 away at Stuttgart. It was a hammer blow to our hopes of reaching next season's Champions League.

In Germany, you must finish in the top three but Bayern are fourth - five points behind third-placed Stuttgart - and it is the first time in my career at the club that we have been in such a position.

In fairness to Stuttgart, who are a young team playing with a lot of confidence, it was a comfortable win.

Owen Hargreaves in action against Stuttgart's Robert Hilbert on Saturday
Owen in action against Stuttgart's Robert Hilbert on Saturday

At 0-0 they scored a fortunate deflected goal and from there on they controlled the game. They had chances and looked dangerous and overall we had a very poor game.

I love playing away from home, the atmosphere at these grounds in Germany is fantastic, but myself and the team had envisioned it panning out very differently to how it did.

It is not acceptable to lose in the way that we did and so we sat down on Sunday to talk about the game and watched it again on tape, which is important after a result like that.

It was a massive game and defeat is a bitter pill to swallow. Only at the end of the season will we know how important it is.

You expect the team to rise to the big occasion because that is what we have done at Bayern year in, year out.

But we were not the better team on this day. Stuttgart outplayed us and outworked us and thoroughly deserved the win and it is deeply frustrating when these things happen.

I cannot just forget about it, either.

Kevin Nolan said in his BBC Sport column that he finds it hard to sleep after Bolton have lost an important game and I am the same.

It affects me very seriously. I do take the defeat personally as I spend a lot of time and energy preparing physically and mentally for each and every game.

Afterwards, some people can get rid of the losing feeling rather quickly but, for me, it hangs around.

I do not sleep well and to be honest I am pretty much extremely miserable company! I think people who know me know not to call after we have lost a game in that fashion.

Having said that, I remain confident we can still grab third spot and make it into the Champions League next season.

You have to think that - this is Bayern Munich.

The club demands and expects success all the time. Finishing second is not good, so finishing fourth would be almost unheard of.

Everyone loves it when we lose, no-one wants to see Bayern win - the whole country is like that

We have put ourselves in an extremely difficult position for the four games we have still to play. No-one is to blame but the players for the position we are in.

What we need to do is get 12 points from these four games and see where that takes us. There is no point dwelling on the past any longer.

We are under pressure but then every game I play for Bayern or for England comes with a certain amount of pressure.

They are all massive, must-win games. You must also remember that for the team you play against, whether it be Andorra or Israel or Stuttgart, playing you is the highlight of their season.

All their family and friends are watching and everyone wants to say they beat Bayern Munich or England.

In fact, the whole of Germany is pretty much like that. Everyone loves it when we lose, no-one wants to see Bayern win.

When we do win, there are maybe 10-15 journalists waiting for us after the next training session. If we lose, there are more like 30-40, so that tells you everything.

Bayern have been so successful and everyone loves the underdog to win in any walk of life.

I know we are fourth in the Bundesliga but Bayern are still the best team in Germany, no matter what happens this season.

Somebody else will win the Championship but all the top players in Germany want to play for Bayern - and only Bayern - and that will not change.

For whatever reason we have had a bit of a hiccup but that happens in football.

After all, no team can win the league 50 years in a row. It is impossible.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Who do you think will win the English Premiership?
Joe Stirup, England

Well, it was a surprising weekend with Manchester United not winning at home and then Chelsea drawing away, so I think it is still up in the air.

I think United are probably just still in the driving seat at the moment because of their goals for column.

Hi Owen, can you see it happening in your playing days a time when there is a super league in Europe, with, say, three teams from each of the leagues currently represented?
Gordon Baker, Australia

No, I think it is good the way it is. I never understood talk of a super league because that is why there is a Champions League.

Can you imagine if you played these games all year round, how boring it would be?

What would the other teams be playing against each other for in their own countries, as well? Nothing, that's what.

Sometimes it is great that a smaller team gets into the Champions League, so it would really take the game away from the fans.

Imagine if you took away Celtic or Rangers from the Scottish League? The biggest games of the year for the other teams would be taken away and the attendances would probably halve.

Hi Owen. As I used to work with an airline in Barbados and met various players as they holidayed here in the off-season, I wondered if you had given any thoughts to your off-season schedule and where is your favourite haunt?
John Pile, Barbados

Actually I went to Barbados in 2003 and it is a wonderful place. I had heard a lot about it and it was great, I had a lovely time.

I rented a house that was by the water and went with my family. We were quite a big group and it was just fabulous.

This summer, as England players we have got to open Wembley against Brazil and play against Estonia too, so you can't really plan too far ahead.

I like to just see what happens, I am not a fan of being stuck to a schedule. Our lives change every day so I like to be able to make decisions as and when I feel like it.

Owen, who would you consider to be the top five strikers in the world?
Filip, Canada

Top five? Wow, what a question!

I think Didier Drogba would have to be number one at the moment. Then I'm going to have Kaka and Wayne Rooney, then Claudio Pizarro from our place.

That's four. Who have I missed? Oh crikey, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o!

Claudio's my mate and everything and he's a brilliant footballer but I'm going to have to leave him out. Can we give him an honourable mention instead?

  • Every week Owen will be answering a selection of your questions in his column. So, using the postform at the top of this column on the right, send us your questions and we will put some of them to the England international.

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