FC Bayern München looked back to their best against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Matchday 13. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
FC Bayern München looked back to their best against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Matchday 13. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Fine-tuned Bayern rediscover swagger ahead of Atletico clash

Spirits are high in the FC Bayern München camp as they prepare to face Club Atletico de Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday (kick-off: 20:45CET/19:45GMT).

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Although the defending Bundesliga champions can no longer usurp their Spanish guests as Group D winners, they are already through to the Round of 16 and go into their final group encounter brimming with confidence following a supremely polished display against 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the weekend.

Watch: Carlo Ancelotti on Bayern's 3-1 triumph in Mainz:

"We haven't played like we played in the first half for weeks," Arjen Robben said after notching up a goal and assist in the 3-1 win at the OPEL Arena. "As a player, it's great fun. We had a lot of movement and played with that surprise element that I think we have lacked in recent weeks."

Robben was not the only Bayern player beaming with pleasure at the full-time whistle. "It was a lot of fun today," enthused Thomas Müller. "When the coach told me that we were going to play differently, obviously I was delighted - but the pressure was on. I was starting in my preferred position, so I had to deliver."

Müller did exactly that in perhaps his most convincing performance to date of the Carlo Ancelotti era. Operating in the middle of the forward three behind lone striker Robert Lewandowski, the 27-year-old was a hive of activity throughout and affected the game in his own impossible-to-subdue style.

- © gettyimages / Alex Grimm

With shades of Jupp Heynckes' treble-winning class of 2012/13, elements of Pep Guardiola's record breakers and the astute refinement of Ancelotti, Bayern appear to have their swagger back at just the right time. Games against VfL Wolfsburg and SV Darmstadt 98 follow the Atletico meeting, before Matchday 16's Hinrunde-closer with surprise Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig.

"I'm pretty sure Leipzig will be right up there at the end of the season," Ancelotti said recently, drawing on 21 years of experience as a head coach. "The important thing, though, is to be in first place at the end of the season and to win the title."

As the 25-time Bundesliga champions, Bayern know that better than anyone.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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