FCB take 'a step forward'
Carlo Ancelotti was pleased after Bayern's 4-1 victory over PSV Eindhoven in Champions League Group D, a morale-boosting success after a run of three matches without victory. "It was the reaction I expected from the team," commented the Bayern coach, satisfied after the second group stage win. "We played well, the attitude was right. But we have to give it everything to challenge Atlético in the fight for top spot."
Having taken six points from three matches, the Bavarians are three points short of last year's finalists, but have a five-point edge over both PSV and Rostov. "I think we qualify for the next round if we win our next match. We want to seal a spot in the last sixteen in Eindhoven," commented Mats Hummels, looking ahead to the crucial return in the Netherlands in two weeks. "We want to maintain our chances of finishing first."
Bayern dominated proceedings from the start against the Dutch champions. The 70,000 capacity crowd rose to hail Thomas Müller's opener 12 minutes into the contest, with Joshua Kimmich scoring the second shortly afterwards. "We hit the gas from the start. We went on the attack, especially in the first 30 minutes," declared Müller after the final whistle. But FCB briefly eased off the throttle towards the end of the first half, with Luciano Narsingh pulling one back shortly before the interval.
14th CL home win on the bounce
"70 minutes were good, but in the meantime, after 30 minutes, we eased off a bit," analysed Ancelotti. Centre-back Hummels spoke of a "little period of weakness shortly before and shortly after the break," when Manuel Neuer prevented the equaliser with a brilliant save to deny Gaston Pereiro. But the home team regained the initiative and Robert Lewandowski wrapped up the victory on the hour, before Arjen Robben crowned an outstanding display with his first headed Champions League goal, sealing the final scoreline.
"We wanted to show a reaction to the match last weekend," explained David Alaba, who like his team-mates turned in a far better display compared to the 2-2 draw against Frankfurt. "We're sportsmen, pros, we're our own sternest critics. Every single player was dissatisfied with the situation," Neuer agreed. Hummels added: "I think we created the bulk of the pressure ourselves because we aren't happy if we don't win."
FC Bayern have taken a giant stride towards the knockout stages with their 14th Champions League home win in a row. "It was an important victory for us. Anything else would have created a difficult situation, so we're very pleased," stressed Müller, who quickly turned his focus to the upcoming matches: "We're keen on victories, keen on success. You have to generate this feeling every three days, and that's going to be our job."
The next tough challenge awaits the Bavarians on Saturday as they entertain Borussia Mönchengladbach. "I think we absolutely took a step forward today, and we have to build on that," said skipper Philipp Lahm: "Not everything was bad lately, and not everything worked perfectly today either. There are still things we can improve - and we must improve."