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Set for Shakhtar

FCB vow to maintain goal-rich revival

Showing perfect timing prior to the start of the Champions League knockout stages, FC Bayern bounced back from a patchy period with only one win from three games since the Bundesliga restart by posting a crushing 8-0 victory at home to Hamburger SV. Pep Guardiola’s men oozed the poise and hunger for goals that characterised the first half of the season, and sent out a clear message of intent to Tuesday’s European opponents Shakhtar Donetsk.

“Today’s game was another step in the right direction as we seek to regain peak form,” club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented afterwards. The previous week’s 2-0 success in Stuttgart had indicated that FCB were “heading in the right direction,” Rummenigge continued, but the big win against HSV “came at a good time” in the run-up to the Shakhtar clash. “It’s important we stay in this positive groove, because we have important games coming up.”

Biggest win in 31 years

Thomas Müller, who opened the floodgates with a 21st-minute penalty awarded for handball, stressed the morale-boosting nature of the result: “It was a good dress rehearsal and important for our belief.” Mario Götze (23) and the near-unstoppable Arjen Robben (36) effectively sealed the outcome before half-time. Robben (47), Müller (55), Robert Lewandowski (56) and sub Franck Ribéry (69) fired in second-half strikes, before Götze became the third man to secure a brace with the eighth goal two minutes from time, completing the Reds’ biggest win in 31 years.

“Bayern were superior in every respect,” acknowledged HSV boss Josef Zinnbauer, “they were incredibly strong opponents.” That was despite a last-minute line-up change, as Xabi Alonso was ruled out before kick-off with a minor sprain. On the other hand, Holger Badstuber, Rafinha and Ribéry all made comebacks from injury and played a part in inflicting the biggest-ever defeat suffered by Bundesliga founder members Hamburg in their 52-year run in the top flight.

Terrific team display

“We were very good as a team today, we used the space well, our movement was good and we played simple passes in the build-up. We played well by virtue of our own efforts,” summarised captain Bastian Schweinsteiger after 90 one-sided minutes in front of a 75,000 full house at the Allianz Arena. “It was a terrific team performance,” added Badstuber. “We were totally focused right from the start. I’m delighted it came together so well as a team today.”

Despite the biggest win of the season so far, the personalities in the FCB camp moved swiftly to dampen any euphoria. “Let’s not go over the top and claim everything’s wonderful again. There were reasons why it’s gone the way it has. We always need to be very restrained,” warned Robben. “A few questions were asked in our first three games and I don’t want us praised to the skies now. It switches too quickly between being useless and world-class,” agreed Müller.

However, it cannot be denied that FCB have rediscovered their rhythm and swagger just as the do-or-die matches emerge on the horizon. “We’ll focus on our Champions League game now,” stated Guardiola, “I’m glad we’re back in the groove.” Müller vowed to continue the revival on Tuesday: “We’re aiming to carry our form with us into the match against Shakhtar, although we’re not going to score eight at their place.”

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