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Playing with Thomas Mueller in a withdrawn role on his own up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.