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After scoring twice against Olympique de Marseille to secure FC Bayern München's progress to the last four of the UEFA Champions League, Ivica Olić told UEFA.com he was simply "happy to get the chance to play" in Europe's premier club competition.
Olić was handed a rare start in attack as Jupp Heynckes rested the prolific Mario Gomez and the decision paid off with Bayern reproducing their quarter-final first-leg scoreline to go through 4-0 on aggregate. "I was delighted the coach let me play because the Champions League is very special," said the Croatia striker, so integral to Bayern's run to the 2010 final but less involved this time.
The Bavarian outfit can now look forward to a likely semi-final against Real Madrid CF, who will travel to the Fußball Arena München on 17 April provided they protect a 3-0 advantage over APOEL FC in Wednesday's return fixture. The last-four ties will represent just two of several important encounters over the coming weeks for Bayern, who need to pool all their resources as they chase the three trophies they remain in contention for: UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup.
"It was good that Mario and Arjen [Robben] were able to sit on the bench to conserve energy for the next match," explained Olic, who was given a standing ovation when replaced by Gomez with 15 minutes remaining. "
It's great that we have players who can come in and help out. Today it was me and next time it will be someone else."
Olić felt his 13th-minute opener was the turning point in Tuesday's match, with Marseille left chasing the game thereafter. "I think the French did well, especially up to the first goal," added the 32-year-old. "They had one or two opportunities before that, but afterwards their morale was down."
Forward Thomas Müller agreed that while "Marseille wasted a couple of chances", Bayern were better over the 180 minutes and could ultimately relax – a welcome scenario given "we've got a lot going on over the next few weeks". Indeed, Bayern's gruelling schedule continues with three key Bundesliga fixtures in the next fortnight, including next Wednesday's title showdown at Borussia Dortmund.
As the season enters its decisive phase, Bayern appear to have hit their stride at just the right moment and, on current form, Olić is confident they can fulfil their dream of a home UEFA Champions League final on 19 May: "Real Madrid have a very good team, but so do we, so it would be tough for both sides. I don't think there are any favourites at this stage."
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