MUNICH - Bayern Munich showed they
are a force to be reckoned with in the Champions League, despite
their erratic Bundesliga season, by beating Basel 3-0 on
Wednesday for their fifth win in six matches.
The Bavarians, who lost in the Champions League final to
Inter Milan last season, have shown two faces so far: a bad one
in the Bundesliga and a scintillating one in Europe.
Bayern have dominated their Champions League group like
never before, making their best ever start with four wins out of
four to seal top spot in Group E with two games to spare.
With Wednesday's victory, Bayern finished their group
obligations with 15 points, a record for a German team, having
scored 16 goals, another German record.
"Five wins in the group stage is not something that many
teams have achieved," said Bayern coach Louis van Gaal. "This
win gives us a lot of confidence for the tasks lying ahead."
Bayern essentially needed two minutes to put the game beyond
the battling Swiss with Franck Ribery scoring in the 35th minute
and Ukrainian Anatoliy Tymoshchuk adding another two minutes
Ribery sealed their win five minutes after the restart in
another dominating performance by the four-time winners of
Europe's top competition, who squandered many chances to
increase the scoreline.
With several players, including winger Arjen Robben and
striker Miroslav Klose, expected to return from injury after the
winter break, Bayern will be even stronger in the round of 16.
Yet in the Bundesliga it has been a different story with van
Gaal's team all but writing off their title defence even before
the halfway mark, lying in seventh place some 17 points off
leaders Borussia Dortmund.
"We needed such a win to get more confidence. The first 25
minutes were not good but after that it went very well," said
captain Mark van Bommel.
The Dutch midfielder said the side's Champions League form
could still lift them higher in the league.
"For this season I have not given up hope (of defending the
title) yet. We are so many points behind that our realistic aim
should be to finish second but we always have to go for the
title," he said.
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