By Klaus Bergmann, dpa
Barcelona (dpa) – “A tournament favourite,” was how Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman described Bayern Munich after his side were well beaten in their Champions League opener on Tuesday – and confidence is also beginning to grow at the German giants.
“When you win 3-0 here in the opening game of the group stage, it sends a very important message,” said Thomas Mueller. “We’re very happy.”
Mueller opened the scoring with a fortunate deflection in the first half and Robert Lewandowski added two more after the break to seal a deserved victory which will send a statement at home and abroad days after domestic title contenders RB Leipzig were dispatched 4-1.
“In Leipzig we have shown a great team in Germany where it’s going,” said captain Manuel Neuer. “And now we have set an exclamation mark internationally with the fantastic start against Barcelona.”
Bayern made a slow start under new coach Julian Nagelsmann with unimpressive friendly results and dropped points at Borussia Moenchengladbch on the opening day of the season.
But now, with the players recovered from Euro 2020 exertions and having trained regularly under the new boss, things are settling even if there is still room for improvement.
“With the ball, we could have created more chances to score,” said the coach. “We had too few good chances for our overall dominance.
“In the end, we controlled the game well and scored a third. The victory is absolutely deserved, even by that margin.”
Joshua Kimmich admitted Bayern “made a few simple mistakes through lack of concentration,” but said “the bottom line is that we can be satisfied.
“The trend is very good. It’s getting better from game to game. I hope we can build on this performance.”
Bayern are chasing a record-extending 10th straight Bundesliga title and are currently second, two points behind Wolfsburg who have won all four league matches so far.
Next up on Saturday are promoted Bochum, who with one win and three losses to date, are taking time to adjust to the top-flight.
That game – and the Bundesliga as a whole – is likely to prove an easier challenge than the Champions League.
Barcelona, riddled with financial difficulties which saw them lose Lionel Messi in summer, are no longer among the elite.
But the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, with Messi, Manchester United with Cristiano Ronaldo and last year’s finalists Chelsea and Manchester City could prove tougher come the knock-out stages.
Bayern, however, are not shying away from chasing a seventh continental title after their most recent in 2020.
“If we continue to develop then we’re one of the favourites,” said Nagelsmann. “We’ll defintely try to be one.”