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Bayern boss Nerlinger pleased to end 2011 on top
Bayern Munich's director of sport Christian Nerlinger said Sunday he is pleased the Bavarian giants finished 2011 top of the German league.
Bayern's 3-0 victory over Cologne on Friday leaves them three points clear of both rivals Borussia Dortmund and Schalke as the Bundesliga began the four-week winter break on Sunday.
Munich dominated Cologne on Friday despite playing nearly 60 minutes a man down after France wing Franck Ribery was sent off for a second yellow card in almost as many minutes.
Goals by striker Mario Gomez, his 16th in as many league games, Toni Kroos and David Alaba sealed the win as Bayern brushed off their numerical disadvantage.
Munich face Manchester United-slayers Basel in the last 16 of the Champions League and Nerlinger said he is happy with the progress made so far this season under new coach Jupp Heynckes.
Bayern now face second-division Bochum in the third-round of the German Cup on Tuesday in their last competitive game of the year.
"Last year at this time, we were 14 points back," said Nerlinger after Bayern finished 2010 fourth in the league behind run-away leaders and eventual champions Dortmund.
"That is why we're all very pleased that we have a three-point lead.
"We have also achieved our goals in a difficult group in the Champions League.
"If we can clear Bochum out of the way on Tuesday, we will be very calm and happy in the Christmas break."
Nerlinger said defending champions Dortmund are their biggest threat to being crowned German champions next May.
"Borussia Dortmund are certainly our number one title rivals, even if they won't admit that," he said.
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