New energy after Plzeň: That was very good
It was one of those moments, as Leon Goretzka flexed his biceps just that little bit more, and FC Bayern and their fans celebrated with him. His performance on Wednesday evening on Matchday 4 of the Champions League group stage definitely stood out. The 27-year-old scored two impressive goals (25' and 35') and added an assist in the 4-2 win at Viktoria Plzeň. It was the first time he had recorded three goal contributions in a CL match.
"I'm happy I was able to score two goals. It was important to get back on track right away. That's why we were highly motivated. Now, game by game, we want to build up a real head of steam," Goretzka announced.
In the end, they recorded their fourth win in their fourth match. Consequently, FCB progressed to the round of 16 ahead of schedule, for the 15th straight year, and gained new energy for the next important Bundesliga top match against SC Freiburg this Sunday.
After setting yet another record with their 11th straight win in the group stage, Bayern remain in a commanding position at the top of the table in Group C. In the final two group stage matches, the Reds are away to Barcelona before facing Inter Milan at home.
"The guys did well. It's always a good benchmark when you're the clear favourites. All credit to the team from me. We have twelve points from four games in the toughest group, are in the last 16 and want to finish first," FCB head coach Julian Nagelsmann declared.
Early goal worth its weight in gold
Against Plzeň it was like it has been many times this season: when Bayern score early, a lot of things come easier. It only took ten minutes for Sadio Mané to open the scoring. Thomas Müller (14'), who had to be taken off later after a knock, quickly added to the tally before Goretzka's big moment arrived. At no time was there any doubt as to who wanted to win the game at all costs.
The team made good use of the space left by the opposition. The result: terrific diagonal passes to the flanks, wonderful finishes.
Nagelsmann had revealed that he had worked with the team in the run-up to the match to consolidate the target areas and sequences when going for goal - a measure that had obviously had an effect.
The successful encounter against Plzeň - at least in the first half - was also proof that the personnel changes were well thought out. The completely newly formed defence stood firm. And although two goals were conceded in the second half and there was a certain "drop in tension", some players such as Mathys Tel, Ryan Gravenberch or Paul Wanner gained valuable playing time.
"We need a very big squad with strength in depth. That's what we're seeing now. It's a tough season, with a game every two or three days. The guys have to understand that as a challenge," CEO Oliver Kahn had stressed.
Dissatisfaction after conceding
Sven Ulreich, who replaced the injured Manuel Neuer in goal, saw "a terrific first half" and noted: "In the second half we did a little less. That was unnecessary because our intention had been to keep a clean sheet. We have some catching up to do and have to address that."
Goal-getter Goretzka also admitted to being annoyed about the goals conceded, but added: "Overall, it was a solid performance. It was an evening where you can look at the positive things.
Following Plzeň, the intensive preparation for Freiburg now begins. Coach Christian Streich's team, currently second in the table, are characterised by their compactness, competitiveness and ability to score goals.
With new energy after Pilsen and qualification for the knockout phase secured, our team appear well prepared for the top match at the Allianz Arena.
FC Bayern are ready.
The facts on our progression to the round of 16: