I went on the Bayern website shortly after the full-time whistle at the Allianz Arena. On the match page, the score-line was 7-1. I laughed to myself. In truth, if the Bayern website had written 11-1, I wouldn’t be surprised. They missed a tonne of chances. Yet, they were the biggest winners on the night.
A 5-0 score-line at halftime is a Champions League record. Bayern didn’t even need 34 minutes for that. From the first whistle, Bayern looked hungry. Sometimes, Bayern can look rather lethargic at the opening whistle; however, last night wasn’t one of those nights. It took only five minutes for Bastian Schweinsteiger to start the scoring with a wonderful free-kick.
Xherdan Shaqiri had been the only one to have scored from a free-kick so far for Bayern. Bastian’s one was equally wonderful. That, to me, summed up the brilliance of the Bayern vice-captain. He didn’t set a foot wrong the whole night. A second followed as Claudio Pizarro scored following a one-two with Franck Ribery.
Pizarro was quick with his feet in that move; a lot of strikers in today’s game would have messed that chance up. But Mr Pizarro was simply unplayable. Arjen Robben scored the third from a free-kick. The ball was heavily deflected, but Robben, who missed about five chances in the second half due to the brilliance of Lille’s keeper, was given credit for it.
Pizarro then added his second and third, both assisted by the excellent Philipp Lahm. Salomon Kalou added a consolation in the second half only for Toni Kroos to come on and raise the deficit once more with a sixth goal. Bayern just could not have been more brilliant on the night.
Jupp Heynckes has been making subtle changes to the team since he took over in 2011. He turned a porous defence into the league’s best, and one of Europe’s best last season according to the statistics. This season, he has ensured that the transition from defence to attack occurs quickly. Spells of stagnant possession are rare nowadays.
The squad depth is amazing. I am still not sure whether a replacement for Schweinsteiger has emerged yet, as Emre Can is still young. However, in every other area of the pitch, Bayern is well stacked. They are also flying under the radar in the CL this season, owing to Europe’s love of Borussia Dortmund and, to a lesser extent, the entertaining as well as well-disciplined Schalke 04.
There was one negative on the night, though—three unnecessary yellow cards. Schweinsteiger’s "high foot" never warranted one. With one more card to his name, he will pick up a one-match ban. Franck Ribery was infuriated by some of the decisions of the referee and had to be pushed down the tunnel. He also picked up a yellow, as did substitute Anatoliy Tymoshchuk.
Bayern is supposed to be second on goal difference in the group. However, according to UEFA, they are actually top due to a superior head to head against Valencia. They will have a chance to settle the group once and for all in Spain on the 20th of November. As brilliant as Bayern is, they are a tad unpredictable. This group is still open as BATE Borisov is still in the picture.
If Bayern has a night like they did yesterday, however, nobody will be able to stop them.
After the highs of Europe, Bayern will return to the highs of the Bundesliga. They will take on third-placed Eintracht at the Allianz Arena. Eintracht sits seven points behind Bayern. Their wheels have come off slightly in the past few matches. They followed up an unlucky defeat against Stuttgart with a lacklustre draw against Greuther Fürth.
Die Adler has some gifted players in the side. Amongst them is the unpredictable and inconsistent Alex Meier. Meier has scored some brilliant goals this season. He has been difficult to stop, and Bayern has to be wary of his threat. Sebastian Rode was the last Frankfurt player to score against Bayern in their 1-1 draw in early 2011. He will be another to look out for.
Pirmin Schwegler is a very good midfielder and will be looking to direct proceedings on the pitch. Takashi Inui started the season well, and he will be another threat that Bayern will have to be wary off. Frankfurt can play eye-catching football undoubtedly. They drew 3-3 against Dortmund in an extremely memorable contest this season.
However, Bayern will look to set things right at home in the Bundesliga; their previous home match in the league was a hugely unlucky defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. Frankfurt will look to exploit the one weakness Bayern still displays: When Bayern concedes first, the talented stars turn into a nervous bunch. Bayern has gone behind thrice this season and lost two of those games.
Toni Kroos is fit and demonstrated so with his display against Lille. Thomas Müller was taken off early in that match, suggesting he might be in for a rest this week. Luiz Gustavo picked up an injury last week and might be out this week. Mario Mandzukic wasn’t in the squad for a cold against Lille and might sit this one out, too.
Again, this is my best shot at a lineup:
Philipp Lahm—Dante—Jerome Boateng—David Alaba
Bastian Schweinsteiger—Javier Martinez/Anatoliy Tymoshchuk
Arjen Robben—Toni Kroos—Franck Ribery
After the Lille match, I was thinking to myself about the Valencia game. I was worrying! Then, I was reminded that Bayern has been unplayable most of the time this season. It’s time for me to sit back and enjoy the ride. So far, this season has been a very good one.
That’s it from me. I would like to hear your thoughts.