Created on 2016-11-02 at 12:37 PM by Redaktion
The distances in Eindhoven are short. FC Bayern's favoured team hotel is only a five-minute drive from the Philips Stadion, where the German record champion booked a berth in the Champions League last sixteen in Tuesday's narrow but fully deserved 2-1 victory over PSV. As a result, it was earlier than usual that the men from Munich were greeted by loud applause at the traditional Champions League post-match banquet.
"Warm congratulations to the team and the coaching staff," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said by way of welcome: "We've qualified for the Round of 16 with mathematical certainty." Captain Philipp Lahm revealed: "We preserved the chance to win the group, which was our goal before kick-off." Robert Lewandowski promised: "We're in the next round, but we'll fight for top spot in the last two games."
The Bavarians are hungry, and they proved it in the 93 minutes against PSV. Carlo Ancelotti's troops reacted to Santiago Arias's surprising and controversial opener on the quarter-hour with defiance, displaying commitment even if they were "a little too slow at times" and "spent too long in possession," according to Lewandowski. "But that's football, you always have to fight. We were much, much better than PSV. It was a clear-cut victory."
Once again the Pole played a big part in the victory. Lewandowski proved a cool customer when he netted from the spot after the half-hour, levelling the scores against the Dutch champions at Eindhoven's cauldron of a stadium. The striker had hit the woodwork twice by that point. Lewy even notched an unwanted hat-trick late in the contest, hitting the goal frame for the third time on Wednesday night. However, the Poland captain did not rue the missed chances, but focused on the team: "With a little luck I could have scored two more goals, but the main point is that we've won."
Costa a 'damn mighty weapon'
"After the break we played faster and had more chances," Carlo Ancelotti said, pleased with the victory. Lewandowski settled the game with a quarter-hour to go after a fine and quick combination involving David Alaba and sub Douglas Costa. "I tried to change the system, to create more crosses by bringing on Coman and Costa," revealed the FCB head coach. Hummels agreed that Costa is "always dangerous because he creates gaps with his speed against deep-lying opponents. I've never seen anyone who's so explosive over the first few metres. Douglas is a damn mighty weapon for us!"
"We played really well, we were clearly dominant and controlled the game," said skipper Lahm, drawing a positive conclusion to the evening. "Our opponents had two shots on goal, one of them from an offside position." Hummels added: "If we'd won 3-0 everyone would be saying, okay. We created many chances and could have scored at least one or two more goals, so we can be very pleased with a Champions League away match like this. We're heading in a very good direction."
'A little easier on paper'
However, the Bavarians are anything but content, turning their focus to the next goal after making the last sixteen: "It would be really good if we claimed top spot," Lewandowski said. "It's a little easier in the last sixteen if you're group winners, at least on paper. But there are no weak opponents in the Champions League knockout rounds. If you're in the quarter-finals, semi-finals or the final you have to beat the opponents you have in front of you." Ancelotti summarised: "We've qualified for the last sixteen, that's important. Now we have two more games to seal the group win."