Created on 17-09-2015 at 10:30 AM
The scene: after midnight on the roof terrace in Athens, the temperature still a little over 20 degrees Celsius. A fascinating view of the illuminated Acropolis. The banquet offered the perfect setting to round off the first Champions League trip of the season. “It’s always important to start well in the group stage. The team succeeded with the 3-0 victory,” praised Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in his short address after the opener in Piraeus: “Well done, bravo!”
As usual at the dinner after Champions League matches, Pep Guardiola sat next to Rummenigge. The head coach seemed relieved and happy. “We were fantastic,” the Catalan had said an hour before at the press conference. He stressed that winning away to Olymiacos is not a matter of course, not even for FC Bayern. “Congratulations to all my players.”
Faced with the might of Munich, the serial Greek champions suffered their first Champions League home defeat in two years. It was a commanding display, and the Reds’ victory in the cauldron of Piraeus was never at risk. Thomas Müller, putting the German record champions in the lead with an improbable goal shortly after the break (52), was once again a crucial factor.
‘The ball bobbled’
“I wanted to pass the ball to Lewy with a sharp cross,” the Germany international explained later, “when the ball was in the air I could see after five metres that it wouldn’t be a cross. Actually it was a dangerous shot into the far corner. It went in, it was a bit lucky – the ball just bobbled.” All the same, the goal was well worth seeing. And important.
With a smile playing on his lips, Philipp Lahm insisted that Müller saw Olympiacos keeper Roberto standing too far off his line. “So he shoots the ball into the far corner. Typical of Thomas.” However, after Müller’s goal the Bavarians rather lost their shape. “That wasn’t a good spell, we didn’t control the ball,” criticised Guardiola. “We should have made Olympiacos run more.”
Fortunately the Greeks could not get the ball past Manuel Neuer. Mario Götze (89) and once again Müller (90+2, pen) removed any lingering doubts with their late goals. New signing Kingsley Coman, subbed on for Robert Lewandowski, provided assists for both goals.
Relax a little, then Darmstadt
It was Müller’s fourth brace, his Champions League goals number 29 and 30. He has now scored as often as former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o or the Brazilian Kaká. “It feels nice when things are going well,” Müller commented modestly. “I do my best in every game, but at the moment I’m enjoying a little luck as well.” Skipper Philipp Lahm advised Müller to “just enjoy” his incredible form “for as long as possible.”
The man of the evening was one of the last to leave the banquet after fulfilling all autograph and photo requests. The 3-0 victory was nearly forgotten by then because the Reds were already looking ahead. “It’s important to keep it up in the weeks ahead,” commented Rummenigge. “On Saturday we’re up against Darmstadt, on Tuesday it’s Wolfsburg. Keep going, just like you did tonight!”