Summary

  • Bayern beat Mainz 3-1 on Matchday 13.
  • Ancelotti system change welcomed by players.
  • Guaranteed to finish second in Champions League Group D.

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.

Thomas Müller (l.) and Arjen Robben (c.) had a field day at Mainz's OPEL Arena. © gettyimages / Alex Grimm

Ancelotti's decision to go 4-2-3-1 at the expensive his favoured 4-3-3 formation also made the world of difference to Lewandowski. With Müller in close support and Robben and Franck Ribery supplying the ammunition from out wide, the Pole thrived with ruthless efficiency in front of goal.

"We have more opportunities to play attacking football with this system," Lewandowski explained after ending a three-game goalless run with a welcome brace. "A lot went through the middle - it worked well. For me, it's important to have Thomas behind me, and it's better for him that he can come from deep."

Watch: Robert Lewandowski discusses Bayern's win over Mainz:

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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