Yet though he may have looked relaxed, the Germany and Bayern captain was anxious not to get carried away after such a comfortable victory. “No team is unbeatable,” he warned. Bayern, though, are coming pretty close. Two goals from Franck Ribery, one each from David Alaba and Bastian Schweinsteiger and a late strike from Mario Götze gave the Bavarians their third straight win in this season’s Champions League. It also maintained their unbeaten record and kept them top of Group D.
Eyes on top spot
Top is seemingly where they want to stay too. “Our aim is to get through the group as quickly as possible,” highlighted midfielder Toni Kroos, adding, “we always want more goals”. Kroos is an integral part of Bayern’s drive towards the retention of their Champions League title, his unflustered and beautifully controlling performance against Plzen one of the standout features, beyond the flurry of goals.
Similarly to Lahm, however, Kroos was taking nothing for granted. “The players who came off the bench improved us by scoring or assisting goals,” said the 23-year-old, aware of the squad’s strength in depth. Indeed, one newcomer who came on to assist one and score another could be classed as a positional rival for Kroos: Götze. The summer signing from Borussia Dortmund was praised effusively by Lahm. “He’s a great player. He’s got such quality and his recent performances have really started to show that.”
Aim to please
Götze’s first goal for the club came after an imposing cameo. Entering the field of play in the 63rd minute, his first touch created the fourth goal for Schweinsteiger. He was then a constant menace to an already-demoralised Plzen backline, charging both at them and through them every time he received the ball, bursting to please his new adoring fans. He finally did so, volleying home from close-range moments before the referee blew for full-time.
The young midfielders' performances were emblematic of how Pep Guardiola’s has developed Bayern’s approach to games this season, suffocatingly controlling yet with an aim to please. “We want to have fun and score goals,” said Kroos. “It makes the games more interesting and is why the fans come to the stadium.”
Many fans however, would probably come just to watch Ribery. The Frenchman was outstanding on his return from a minor injury, tormenting his marker with all manner of tricks and turns, easily slotting home his penalty to give Bayern a much-needed lead and completing a brace in the 61st minute with a sublime piece of skill, beating two defenders before dinking in from close-range.
The Frenchman highlighted the smile on Bayern’s faces during recent games as one of the reasons for their excellent run of form. “We’re playing with enjoyment, everything is going well, and we want to win every game,” said the UEFA Best Player in Europe. Next up it's Hertha Berlin who come calling at the Allianz this coming Saturday, and the signs are ominous for the high-flying visitors from the capital.
Daniel Thacker reporting from the Allianz Arena
Catch Gallic genius Franck Ribery's best strikes on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: