One hundred and sixty-five days after the first leg in west London, Bayern Munich were looking to put their Champions League tie with Chelsea to bed.
For a team who have not lost a single game in 2020, there was inevitably a swagger and confidence that they could dispatch the Blues – and sure enough, after just 24 minutes, it was game over – after Robert Lewandowski’s 9,138th goal of the season and Ivan Perišić’s cool finish, served to him on a plate by woeful Chelsea defending.
To add a cherry on top of some very sweet icing, Corentin Tolisso came off the bench to add a third for Bayern – smashing the ball past a helpless Willy Caballero – before Lewandowski sealed the deal with a powerful header; his second of the game, fourth goal involvement of the night and millionth reminder of how brilliant he is.
Simply put, Bayern were unstoppable on Saturday – though nothing less was expected from Hansi Flick’s relentless winning machine. Die Roten completely blew Chelsea away, with their performance over two legs utterly flawless and fantastic.
A wonderful team display was spearheaded by Lewandowski, who made it a remarkable 53 goals – not the aforementioned 9,138 alluded to before – for the season. The Bayern talisman has scored 13 of those in the Champions League, with no player in the competition’s history netting more at this stage of the competition.
Every single one of FCB’s goals was a result of the Pole’s instinctive play, whether he was powering it into the back of the net with his head or teeing up his teammates with an impressive display of passing. He is the striker that any team would want to lead the line, and Bayern are certainly reaping the rewards of having him at their disposal.
While the tie was won in attack, Lewandowski was not the only source of inspiraton. Perišić and Thomas Müller were superb all night, linking up nicely and creating numerous chances throughout the game. Leon Goretzka put in another outstanding shift in the heart of midfield, pulling the strings and single-handedly winning the midfield battle.
Alphonso Davies, meanwhile, has been a joy to watch all season, and he showed why everybody is talking about him with another impressive performance. Whether it was his explosive pace down the flank – completely neutralising the Blues’ youthful attack – or creating a string of chances, the Canadian could do no wrong under the European lights.
Every piece of the Bayern puzzle has been perfectly in place for months, and Saturday’s rout was just another formality for this magnificent side. They have grown in strength throughout their European journey, from their 7-2 thrashing of Tottenham to the blowing away of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and in Bavaria.
Bayern deserve nothing less than a place in the quarter-finals, and a flight down to Lisbon to conclude this unique yet exciting season of European football.
Barcelona are the next challengers for Flick’s men, in what will be a fascinating clash in the Portuguese capital. Barça have their hopes rested on Lionel Messi, but as an overall attacking threat, it is the Spanish giants who have more to fear.
This is arguably the greatest Bayern side we have seen in years, which is some feat considering they have racked up eight consecutive Bundesliga titles. They are undoubtedly favourites to go on and win the Champions League, in what would be an unprecedented treble – as well as a stunning debut season as head coach for Flick.
With the attacking threats of Lewandowski and Müller, the explosiveness of Davies and the dominance of Kimmich and Goretzka, Bayern are the team to beat, not to mention the ones to dread. They have cleared yet another hurdle en route to European glory, but their meeting with Barcelona will be the toughest yet.
Can Bayern do it? Of course they can.