"The second half of the season is more fun than the first," said FC Bayern München's Philipp Lahm, thrilled to be fit again for the UEFA Champions League's closing phase.
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Unavailable for most of the winter months as he nursed a fractured ankle, Philipp Lahm is delighted to be available again as FC Bayern München take on FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, though the 31-year-old defender had enjoyed watching his side from the bench.
UEFA.com: This season you have missed a significant amount of playing time due to injury; how are you feeling ahead of the quarter-final with Porto?
Philipp Lahm: I feel good, and it feels nice to be back on the pitch and not spending any more time just in the gym but on the training ground. We've just had the international break, so I've had the chance to train for two full weeks and I feel very good. And it's about time to get back into rhythm. It's a pity to have missed the round of 16 – that's when [the competition] really starts – but it's nice to be back for the quarter-finals. Being among the best teams in Europe is nice.
UEFA.com: Porto are an exciting young attacking side – what will Bayern need to do to progress to the semis?
Lahm: We are confident enough to say that if we play our game, keep lots of possession and play attacking football, and don't give our opponents many chances, then we will win. But they're a dangerous team, with a lot of quality in attack, and fast and technically strong players in their squad. We are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League so there aren't any easy teams any more.
UEFA.com: How does a team's attitude change between the group stage and the knockout phase?
Lahm: It's nice when the winter break is over, and the decisive matches come around. It can all end suddenly in the Champions League – every player knows that – so the second half of the season is more fun than the first, because things are really decided then.
UEFA.com: You have had to watch a lot of Bayern games from the stands recently due to your injury. Did you enjoy what you saw?
Lahm: Well, I was sidelined for quite a few months, and the period before the winter break was especially impressive as we had already gained a huge advantage but the team continued to play so well – away too. The team always found the right motivation and energy, and that was really impressive. After the winter break there were maybe two or three matches where we didn't play so well, but that is normal. You can't play at the top level all season long, but you could see that we managed to respond to that. It's great how we can play different systems and styles, and when players got injured others managed to step in for them pretty well. So despite being injured I had a lot of fun.