Munich – In the end, the division of spoils was clear enough. Two late goals may have given the final outcome a deceptively lopsided look, but no one in the FC Bayern München camp was complaining as they headed back to the Bavarian capital late on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the bag.
Götze back with a bang
The deadlock-breaking 66th-minute opener from substitute Mario Götze was supplemented by further strikes from Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller inside the final five minutes of regulation time and while man-in-the-spotlight Götze was content to let his feet do the talking against his former club, a delighted Robben chatted to the press at length afterwards about what was “a very important win for us, no doubt about it".
Asked about his own impressive shift marauding down the left rather than in a more accustomed right-wing berth, the 29-year-old Dutch international said: “I just love games like this. What more can you ask for? As a kid, you dream of this sort of game, in a stadium with this kind of atmosphere. It’s as good as it gets, and then against such great opponents as well. You've just got to enjoy it – and rise to the occasion.”
As to Götze's match-defining contribution off the bench, he confessed: “I've a lot of respect for Mario. It's not easy to come back to your old club and face such a reception. He knew what to expect, but that didn't make the experience any more pleasant. Still, he settled into the game very well after coming on and then scored on top of that. He's a brilliant player.”
Thiago also makes his mark
While the Götze subplot understandably drew most of the headlines, Pep Guardiola's introduction of Thiago Alcantara just after the hour mark may well prove to have been an equally significant marker for Bayern's progress over the rest of the season. “Thiago and Götze helped add a bit more composure to our play,” Robben acknowledged. “They've both got top-drawer technique and are always available to take a pass. That certainly worked to our advantage and helped us win the game.”
Indeed, it was Thiago who freed up Robben for the match-clinching second goal on 85 minutes and the fit-again summer signing from FC Barcelona admitted that he had “missed a lot of football over the past two and a half months” and was naturally “very happy, and proud, to have won at the most difficult pitch in Germany”. As for comparisons with his former club's encounters with Real Madrid CF in Spain's own Clasico, he said it wasn't a matter of “better or worse – it's different. The atmosphere here was incredible and it just makes me very happy to play in games like this”.
Bayern far from finished yet
As to whether the newly-established seven-point advantage over their biggest rivals represented a defining step towards the defence of the title, the 22-year-old Spain international made the succinct point that “we've got Leverkusen right behind us now – we have to watch out for other teams, not just Dortmund”. Robben, too, was quick to observe that despite the final scoreline, “it was a battle of equals. Up until the 85th minute it was only 1-0 and Dortmund had good chances of their own before and after our opener. It was a top game, decided by small details”.
That said, the Flying Dutchman took his leave with a word of ominous warning: “We've come along a lot over the past two or three years but we want to keep developing, and keep improving. In Pep Guardiola, we've got the right coach for that. With him, we want to get even better still.”