Bayern delighted with disciplined display in CL opener
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge looked relaxed an hour after the final whistle at the Éstadio da Luz as he took hold of the microphone in the lobby of the team hotel. If he had any doubts that FC Bayern might not be able to take their impressive league form into the Champions League campaign then that was impressively dispelled with a convincing display. A 2-0 victory at Benfica to get off to a magnificent start. "I'd like to thank the team for a successful start, a good game and a deserved win. You did it well and professionally," declared the 62-year-old in his traditional speech at the post-match banquet.
A retrospective analysis quickly confirms the assessment that FC Bayern have established a tradition of starting the Champions League well. And Niko Kovac has now assumed his position in the list of successful Bayern coaches in his first outing in the Champions League: The FCB coaches have all started with a win since 2003 – and that now includes Kovac. "It's a great run," said the 46-year-old at the post-match press conference. "That's typical of FC Bayern who have enormous quality and are also able to win matches. But it's not easy wherever you go as you have to play the games first. It was hard work today."
Fifteenth opening win on the bounce
The match against the Portuguese league runners-up was, as expected, a difficult encounter as Bayern failed to exploit their goalscoring opportunities at times. After the early goal from Robert Lewandowski on ten minutes, the record champions had enough chances to double the lead before the break but they went begging. "On the subject of efficiency, that's an area where we can improve," admitted Mats Hummels. The hosts provided stubborn resistance and also threatened Manuel Neuer's goal a number of times.
"I prefer to play against a team that wants to play. If the opponents take risks then we have more space," explained Joshua Kimmich. Bayern were only able to exploit that space on 55 minutes as Renato Sanches made it 2-0 on his old ground to put FCB on course for victory. "We should have wrapped the game up earlier," said Kovac. "But the Champions League is not easy, Benfica made life very difficult for us."
A lot to do this season
With three points in the bag from the game in Lisbon, Bayern can be confident going into the challenges ahead on all three fronts. "Winning the first game is always important because you're under pressure immediately if you don't," said Arjen Robben as he set out the target of reaching the Round of 16. "Now we've got to try and qualify as soon as we can," demanded the Dutchman. Neuer took the same view: "We're very happy with our performance," said the FC Bayern skipper before adding: "We're still at the beginning. We've got to keep calm as we've got a lot to do this season."