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Superb team display

FCB take next step on road to Berlin

“Berlin, Berlin, we’re going to Berlin!” The Champions League Round of 16 return between Bayern and Shakhtar Donetsk had only just come to an end late on Wednesday evening before the Bayern faithful were filling the Allianz Arena with the famous chant. The sentiment was understandable: excited and roused by the German champions’ 7-0 rout of their Ukrainian counterparts, the fans began dreaming of the big European final at Berlin’s Olympiastadion on 6 June.

“It was a good evening and I’ll go to bed a happy man,” commented chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after FC Bayern’s biggest win in Europe’s elite club competition. “I think we’ve made a good impression in the Champions League so far. Everyone knows we’re aiming high,” Rummenigge continued. That view was echoed by Jérôme Boateng: “We’re determined to make it to Berlin and see if we can win the Champions League,” the centre-back said, although the Berlin-born star finished with a warning: “There’s still a long way to go.”

Earliest-ever red card

FCB’s passage to the last eight ultimately proved less problematic than many had feared before kick-off. Given the goalless draw in the Ukraine three weeks ago, “the situation going into the game was definitely more exciting than the match itself,” Thomas Müller reflected. The 25-year-old handed his side a dream start from the penalty spot after just four minutes. The foul that led to the penalty, Olexandr Kucher’s trip on Mario Götze as the last man, earned the Shakhtar defender the fastest red card in Champions League history.

“No-one was expecting that beforehand. The penalty and red card changed everything and obviously played right into our hands,” acknowledged Sebastian Rode. “It’s hard when you go a man down. I’m not sure the referee really had to show a red card, but from that moment on we couldn’t follow our game plan,” said a “very disappointed” Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu after his team’s biggest-ever Champions League defeat.

FCB superior in every respect

Boateng added a 34th-minute second as the Reds dominated their out-of-sorts opponents at will in a one-sided first half. Franck Ribéry (49), Müller (52), Holger Badstuber (63), Robert Lewandowski (75) and Götze (87) racked up the goals in the second half, “and we deserved to win by that margin,” said Rummenigge. “We totally dominated the game,” summarised boss Pep Guardiola. “It was obvious from the start that the players were up for it. We deserve our place in the quarter-finals.”

Two-goal Müller, whose new total of 26 in the Champions League takes him ahead of ex-FCB man Mario Gomez as the most prolific German in the competition’s history, praised a “fantastic all-round team performance. We can build on that. Now we’ll eagerly await the draw.” The event in question takes place in Nyon on 20 March after the completion of the Round of 16 next week. Apart from FCB, holders Real Madrid, FC Porto and Paris St. Germain are through to the last eight so far.

FCB ‘not a plum draw’

“It’s a very powerful field. You don’t get to choose your opponents and we’ll have to take it as it comes,” said Rummenigge, who is relaxed about the draw: “I don’t think we’ll count as a plum draw for anyone at the quarter-final stage.” Götze shared the chairman’s laid-back outlook: “Let’s see what happens in the other matches. We’ll sit back and enjoy watching.” Boateng agreed: “We don’t care who we get next.” After all, the next step on the road to Berlin simply involves knocking out whoever is placed in Bayern’s way.