Imperious Rome display just the start for Guardiola's Bayern
Rome - Only ravenous FC Bayern München could score seven UEFA Champions League goals in the Eternal City and still come away feeling a modicum of discontent.
The unforgiving Bundesliga leaders warmed up for Wednesday's Papal visit by thrashing Group E rivals AS Roma 7-1 at the Stadio Olimpico, but even that - the club's biggest ever away win in European history no less - wasn't quite what a certain Catalan pedant might term perfection.
'A few things to improve'
"We got a quick goal and that relaxed us, then we got another," analysed Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola after the game. "Roma are a team who always play well, but we were very aggressive, made the right decisions and made space where we needed it. But there are still things we can do better. We have a few things to improve and one of them is that we gave Roma too many chances at the start of the second half." Indeed, it was one of those rare aberrations that momentarily took the shine off an otherwise flawless display. For 45 minutes, Bayern were unabating to say the least, with Mario Götze, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller and an Arjen Robben brace handing the Bavarians a 5-0 half-time lead. Gervinho was allowed to net a token consolation, before Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri restored order from the bench with a goal apiece.
'A superb performance'
"Hats off to the team, and the coaching staff, who prepared us so well," enthused right-wing sensation Robben. "To be leading 5-0 at half time in Rome is just incredible! It's an evening you simply have to enjoy because it was a superb performance. But we have to keep both feet on the ground. It's still early in the season. It may sound a little strange, but there are still areas where we can improve." Ironically, the performance was arguably the most dominant the competition has seen in the short space of time since Bayern's 4-0 home defeat to current holders Real Madrid CF in last season's semi-final second leg. The resultant soul-searching prompted a summer of refinement and, though a work in progress, phase II of Guardiola's brilliantly versatile reincarnation is already bearing fruit.
"Obviously it was an excellent first half from us," admitted World Cup winner Müller. "We were aggressive up front, we kept it tight at the back and made the most of the space available. The coach prepared us very well, showing us exactly what Roma's weaknesses are, and that's what it stemmed from. We knew exactly what we had to do, and obviously we also have great individual quality up front that helps us combine perfectly. That was the key tonight." With three wins from three, Bayern now need just a point from the return fixture against the Giallorossi in a fortnight's time to secure their place in the knockout rounds. Once the group stages are complete, only three two-legged encounters stand in the way of the Rekordmeister and what would be a fourth Champions League final in six years. Guardiola's ruthless flotilla came, saw and conquered in Rome, but only next June in Berlin can they be crowned kings of Europe. Christopher Mayer-Lodge