Bayern Munich serve European rivals reminder of potency

Frenchman Corentin Tolisso scored twice after Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring while Kylian Mbappe netted a consolation goal for PSG at the Allianz Arena.

AFP| Updated: Dec 06, 2017, 23:32 PM IST
Bayern Munich serve European rivals reminder of potency
Courtesy: Twitter (@FCBayern)

Munich: Bayern Munich delivered a stark warning to their Champions League rivals for the knockout stages as their resounding win over Paris Saint-Germain underlined their return to form.

Bayern finished second in Group B behind PSG on head-to-head goal difference, despite their comprehensive 3-1 win on Tuesday night, as both clubs progressed with 15 points.

However, the Germans were a different side to the one humbled 3-0 in Paris at the end of the September.

Frenchman Corentin Tolisso scored twice after Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring while Kylian Mbappe netted a consolation goal for PSG at the Allianz Arena.

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"We are still FC Bayern," boomed Thomas Mueller, sending a timely reminder to potential last-16 opponents of the threat posed by the five-time European champions.

Bayern fell short of securing the four-goal winning margin needed to finish top of their group but proved they deserve to be regarded among the favourites for the title.

"That was a good signal to our rivals," insisted midfielder Sebastian Rudy.

Veteran head coach Jupp Heynckes has turned the team around in the last two months since Carlo Ancelotti was sacked the day after the defeat in Paris."Bayern are among the absolute top teams, you can tell that a lot has happened," said PSG`s Germany midfielder Julian Draxler, reflecting on the impact Heynckes has had since returning for a fourth spell in charge.

The 72-year-old coached Bayern to the 2013 treble and has managed the delicate balancing act of dividing up game time fairly among his star-studded squad.

Frenchmen Tolisso and Kingsley Coman both seized their chances with eye-catching displays as Bayern proved they will be a force in the knockout phase.

Bayern made their point against big-spending PSG, whose Brazil star Neymar -- the world`s most expensive player -- had a quiet night in Munich.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi described Bayern`s performance as a "lesson for everyone".

Bayern were five points behind Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga when Heynckes took over in early October, but the Bavarian giants now hold a six-point lead.

"We`ve confirmed that we have ambitions, the team is getting better and better," said Heynckes.

As well as instilling discipline and returning harmony to the dressing room, where there was in-fighting under Ancelotti, he has coaxed top performances from key stars.

Mueller, Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Arturo Vidal were left out of the starting side, as Heynckes rotated, giving James Rodriguez, Tolisso and Coman the chance to shine against PSG.

It was something Ancelotti never really got right in his 15 months at the helm.

"I have 20 professional players and almost all of them are internationals, I have to make use of the whole squad," said Heynckes. "Changes like that are obvious to me."

Nevertheless, frustrations boiled over at the Allianz Arena as Bayern fell short of usurping PSG as group winners.

Defender Mats Hummels stormed off at the final whistle, exchanging words with Mueller, and left the stadium without speaking to waiting reporters.

"Mats is very ambitious, the way we know him, he wanted to win by more," explained Heynckes.

"He is playing exceptionally well and he wanted the fourth or fifth goal."

Bayern go into the runners-up pot for the draw at 1100 GMT on Monday.

It means they could well draw the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United or Premier League pace-setters Manchester City, led by former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, in the last 16.

Several of the current Bayern squad won the title in 2013 and have the experience of reaching at least the semi-finals five years in a row between 2012 and 2016.

"We`re there and you can count on us not being an easy opponent," warned director of sport Hasan Salihamidzic.