Athens - Though two late goals made the scoreline in their 200th UEFA Champions League outing look a lot more convincing, FC Bayern München’s 3-0 win over Olympiacos FC was anything but straightforward, as Mr Reliable, Thomas Müller, once again provided the heroics in front of goal.
Müller, who celebrated his 26th birthday just three days prior, became the first FC Bayern player to score in eight different campaigns at Europe’s top table on Wednesday night, bagging a brace either side of Mario Götze’s second to move him onto eight goals in six appearances so far this season.
Unstoppable space invader
In light of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s departure in the summer, Müller was seen as the natural replacement to operate as the home grown fan favourite, the heart and soul of the side both on and off the pitch. It’s a leading role which he has stepped into with the effortless ease that is normally associated with his unassuming, yet headline-grabbing style of play.
Despite not playing as an out-and-out striker, Müller’s current goalscoring rate is capable of contending with FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid CF’s Cristiano Ronaldo, but even the 26-year-old admitted he got lucky with his opener in Greece. “I have to be honest and say the ball bobbled slightly before the opening goal,” said Müller, who has had a hand in 45 goals in 69 Champions League appearances. “It was a little bit lucky but very important for us.”
Indeed, the Greek outfit provided stubborn opposition throughout the encounter with Müller conceding that the German record titleholders “had difficulties in attack today because Olympiacos left us no space in the middle.” However, it’s an approach that FC Bayern’s star-studded line-up are more than accustomed to and one they once again managed to breakdown successfully. “We’re delighted to come away from here with three points,” concluded Müller. “Winning the opening match is always important.”
‘We were totally in control’
In many respects, the reigning Bundesliga champions’ performance against Olympiacos was a microcosm of their season so far with added quality prevailing when the side weren’t at their world-beating best. Head coach Pep Guardiola though, was unconcerned.
“The first Champions League match in the group stage is always tough,” mused the Catalan, who is still yet to see his charges drop a single point this season. “Olympiacos hadn’t lost since April and won their last six Champions League matches at home. We were totally in control, they barely created anything and we made enough chances to win it. All credit to my players.”
Considering FC Bayern have won each of their last 12 opening fixtures in Europe’s premier club competition - scoring 25 goals and conceding just twice - victory for a side yet to drop a single point this season came as little surprise. Though he highlighted facets of his side’s performance which could still improve, Guardiola was nevertheless “very, very pleased” with taking a “first step” towards clinching the one title that has eluded him during his time at the helm of the five-time Champions League winners.