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'A great display'

FCB aim to ‘keep calm and carry on’

The atmosphere was electric before kick-off as the players came on to the hallowed turf at the Allianz Arena for the first time in 2014, accompanied by the South Stand commemorating former president Kurt Landauer with a gigantic choreographed display. After the referee got the game against Eintracht Frankfurt underway at 5.30 pm CET, the Bayern eleven set about doing justice to the stunning setting, successfully keeping the fans on the edge of their seats for the following 90 minutes. Each goal was better than the previous one and there were some delightful moves. The visitors from Hessen were almost spectators in Bayern’s impressive 5-0 win.

“We wanted to sit back and close down the spaces. But that’s easier said than done,” admitted Armin Veh at the post-match media conference. The Frankfurt coach was bowled over by the FCB performance: “I’ve never seen such a strong Bayern side before. A great display and high tempo.” The quality of the Bayern performance was evident with summer signing Thiago smashing the Bundesliga record for the number of touches in a game (185) and just missing out on the European record set by Sergio Busquets (190).

“He’s a fantastic player. He was all over the park. That was world-class,” declared Matthias Sammer. Guardiola added: “It’s a big record for him.” Bayern’s playmaker was typically modest in his response. The Spaniard described his performance as “not so important. The important thing was how we played. That was great and we’re happy about it.”

Great comeback from Ribéry

Bayern were so quick out of the blocks it was clear from the start there would be only one winner in the first Sunday game of 2014. “We went straight on the attack and were determined to press forward at any opportunity,” explained Franck Ribéry, who made an impressive return after a short injury lay-off. Guardiola was happy with the “best home game” since he has been at the Bayern helm: “We created loads and loads of chances for the first time at the Allianz Arena. We used every inch of the pitch. Congratulations to my players.”

Thiago was joined by Mario Götze and Mario Mandzukic as the outstanding players in a very convincing team. Götze set the ball rolling with a magical strike to make it 1-0 on 12 minutes. The assist came from Mandzukic, who also laid on the second goal from Ribéry (44) and then banged in his eleventh goal of the season to make it 5-0 on 89 minutes. Arjen Robben came off the bench to score on 67 minutes and Dante nabbed the fourth two minutes later.

It was no wonder the fans were thrilled to bits. FCB have now clocked up 53 out of a possible 57 points in the league. “We can be very happy,” noted Philipp Lahm, “with a 13-point advantage we’re the only team that can stop us. There’s no doubt about that.” His team-mates agree: “Now it’s all about keeping our focus. We’ve got to play at the same high level in every game,” demanded Jérôme Boateng. “That’s the only way we can produce performances like that.”

Next weekend sees Bayern travel to Nuremberg for the Bavarian derby against FC Nürnberg. That is followed by the DFB Cup tie away to Hamburg SV, the Bundesliga home game against Freiburg and the crucial last sixteen first-leg encounter away to Arsenal in the Champions League. There is no room for mistakes. “We’ve got important and big games coming up,” said Robben, “let’s keep calm and carry on.” That's music to the ears of the fans as they savour the joy of watching Bayern play.