Bayern outclasses Man City 3-1 in Champions League

Barely four months after winning the Champions League at Wembley
Stadium, Bayern Munich returned to England on Wednesday and showed
it is in no mood to give up Europe’s most coveted trophy.

With an ominous display of swagger and authority, Bayern humbled
Manchester City 3-1 to signal that things may get even better under
Pep Guardiola than they were under its treble-winning coach of last
season, Jupp Heynckes.

”We were so dominant against a big team in Europe,” said Arjen
Robben, one of the goalscorers on a calamitous night for City. ”We
didn’t expect an easy game like that.”

Franck Ribery kicked off what proved to be a footballing
exhibition in the seventh minute, albeit thanks to another
goalkeeping error by City’s Joe Hart, before Thomas Mueller and
Robben administered more punishment in a four-minute span just
before the hour.

Bayern could feasibly have been seven or eight goals ahead by
the time substitute Alvaro Negredo grabbed a 79th-minute
consolation goal for bedraggled City, which was run ragged and
humiliated in front of its own fans.

Not even the sending-off of Bayern defender Jerome Boateng four
minutes from time for bringing down Yaya Toure could stop Guardiola
celebrating his team’s ”best game” in his few months in charge of
the Bavarian giants.

”I’m lucky to be here and training these players,” said
Guardiola, who won the Champions League in 2009 and ’11 with
Barcelona.

No team has retained the Champions League since the format’s
inception in 1992. On this evidence, it will take some stopping
Bayern breaking that record.

The scoreline flattered City, whose 4-1 victory over Manchester
United in the Premier League 10 days ago must seem like a distant
memory.

After starting its Group D campaign by beating CSKA Moscow 3-0
at home, it was thought Bayern would be given a stern challenge at
the Etihad Stadium by a side which has title pretensions of its own
and which also opened up with a 3-0 win, at Viktoria Plzen.

Not a chance.

At times, it got embarrassing one-sided. City’s fans even
clapped Bayern’s players midway through the second half and
applauded the untouchable Robben when he was substituted in the
78th.

”That is why they are champions,” City defender Micah Richards
said. ”It felt like they had an extra man.”

Playing with Thomas Mueller in a withdrawn role on his own up
front, Bayern always had extra numbers in midfield – just as
Guardiola craves – and was first to every ball. Philipp Lahm, a
full back playing out of position as a holding midfielder because
of injuries in the squad, looked like he had been playing there all
his life.

It was all very familiar for City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who
looked part-flabbergasted, part-resigned as he stood in the
technical area with his hands in his pockets throughout. When he
came up against Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona side in his
stints in Spain with Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga, Pellegrini
lost seven of eight games and drew the other.

Both are coaching in different countries now, but nothing has
changed.

City, constantly overrun in midfield by playing two up front,
was its own worst enemy at times, as demonstrated by Hart’s error
for Ribery’s goal.

The France winger cut inside to get half a yard on Jesus Navas
and unleashed a powerful, low shot from outside the area that Hart
should have kept out. Instead, but he only palmed the shot into the
roof of the net.

Hart’s status as England first-choice goalkeeper is already
under threat after mistakes this season for the national team in a
friendly against Scotland and for City in a Premier League defeat
at Cardiff.

Torn apart time and again, City somehow turned around only 1-0
down. The pattern of the game continued after the break,
though.

Moments after Robben curled a shot just wide in the 54th, Dante
picked out Mueller with a long, diagonal ball forward and the
Germany forward enjoyed the freedom of the area to round a stranded
Hart and tap home. Gael Clichy, who had been marking Mueller,
initially switched off and then curiously chose not to follow the
run.

It got worse for City. Toni Kroos dispossessed Fernandinho in
the center circle and fed Robben, who sprinted toward Matija
Nastasic, turned the center back inside out and buried a
right-footed shot past Hart at his near post.

After Mueller came close to making it 4-0 by crashing a shot
against the goal frame, Negredo finally sparked some panic in
Bayern’s defense by curling home a fine finish and City even smelt
a miracle comeback when Boateng was given a straight red for
tripping the below-par Toure as he charged through on goal.

David Silva struck the crossbar with the resulting free kick and
Bayern saw the game out.

”I think we played really bad,” Pellegrini concluded.

By picking up just three points in its group last season, City
delivered the worst campaign by an English team in the history of
the Champions League but was hoping to finally make a statement of
intent this time round after spending nearly 100 million pounds in
the offseason.

They are nowhere near Champions League contenders on this
evidence.