Bayern Munich inch closer to KO stage with beatdown over Roma

Bayern Munich inch closer to KO stage with beatdown over Roma

Published Oct. 21, 2014 4:35 p.m. ET

The German champions were in sensational form at the Stadio Olimpico, laying down a real marker in Europe and teaching their opponents a painful lesson.

Many neutrals have been waiting for Bayern Munich to prove that it is a different proposition in this season’s Champions League.

The club's 5-0 spanking on aggregate by Real Madrid in the semifinals of last year’s edition has cast a long shadow in most minds. And while it had collected two wins from two against Manchester City and CSKA Moscow, the narrow and sometimes unconvincing nature of those victories had done little to catch the attention.

People wanted to be wowed, to be blown away by a brilliant Bayern giving a real example of its capabilities.


They got it in spades on Tuesday in Rome.

The Bundesliga champions tore poor Roma to shreds in a magnificent first half which ended with Bayern already five goals to the good. While the halftime score and the eventual 7-1 result coupled to evoke memories of the German national team’s demolition of Brazil at this summer’s World Cup, the style in which it was achieved was infinitely more delectable.

Roma, which had won 10 of its previous 11 home games, was far from top drawer. Too often it stood off and watched like startled bunnies, allowing the magnificence opposing it to become spell-binding.

But to liken the Giallorossi’s performance to the brittleness of the Brazilians in Belo Horizonte in July would be to detract from Bayern’s display. Pep Guardiola’s men were simply sensational.

Arjen Robben bagged two goals as Ashley Cole’s difficult start to life in Italy continued, while Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller also netted before halftime. In a system which basically amounted to a 3-3-4, all of the front men had registered in the space of 27 minutes.

But it wasn’t all about the forwards. The defense was quick to put a stop to Roma’s early incisions, while Xabi Alonso continued to show why his addition from Real Madrid was one of the smartest moves of the summer.

Screening the back four, he was the chief organizer as even the slightest sniff of a Roma attack was regularly quelled with seeming ease. What’s more, he was the man dictating the pace of the game on the ball, too.

While Bayern undoubtedly took its foot off the pedal after the break, Roma continued to fight and was more than worthy of the goal Gervinho snatched midway through the half to end Manuel Neuer’s 814-minute clean sheet across all competitions.

The Ivorian had already hit the post earlier in the half, while both he and Alessandro Florenzi forced Neuer into excellent saves. But Roma was still a clear second-best against an unstoppable Roten who added further goals from second-half substitutes Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri. All six forwards who stepped on the field ended up netting at least once.

There will surely be questions asked of the long-term impact of such a result on Roma, with Rudi Garcia needing to get a performance out of his side in time for Saturday’s visit to Sampdoria. Another setback in Genoa will leave their confidence fragile at the very least.

But the plain truth is that Bayern was simply on another level and, being the perfectionist he is, Guardiola will want to see further such displays as the season progresses. He has his team playing with fluency and flexibility, bite and bravado.

This was as stunning a performance as the Champions League has witnessed in some time.

Bayern has laid down its marker.

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