FC Bayern would head to Rome for what would be billed as arguably the toughest match of the season so far, against an AS Roma side that had won its last five matches at the Stadio Olimpico. The visiting fans would be ecstatic when Arjen Robben netted the opener inside the first ten minutes, but this would only be the start as Die Roten swept everything before them. The visiting Red Dragons had expected a tightly-contested gladitorial contest, but would witness a bloody slaughter in what was another glorious evening for the men from Munich.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola would once again switch things around with the starting lineup, making three changes to the eleven that had put six past Werder Bremen at the weekend. In an interesting twist centre-back Medhi Benatia would replace Dante on his first visit back to the Olimpiastadion after leaving Roma in the summer, while Juan Bernat would come in for Rafinha with Robert Lewandowski returning for Pierre-Emile Højbjerg as part of a lineup that looked primed to chase the three points on offer.
Bayern would have just over five-thousand supporters among the crowd of 70,544, but this small by highly vocal number would make their presence felt in what was an electric atmposhere generated by the enthusiastic home supporters. There would be a particularly hostile reception for the returning Benatia, who would be roundly booed every time he touched the ball.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to get into their stride however, and on nine minutes they would give themselves the perfect start with a glorious opening goal. Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben would work the ball into the Roma box out on the right, and the Dutchman would effortlessly ghost inside a surprisingly static Ashley Cole before sending a delicious left-footed effort that curled into the left-hand side of the net past Morgan de Sanctis. Cole would surely have known that Robben would cut inside him, but would be left completely flat-footed.
The home side would immediately look to strike back, and in what would turn out to be a crucial moment in the game Bayern ‘keeper Manuel Neuer would fly to his left to keep out Gervinho’s effort. The Ivorian striker would get his shot on target, but Neuer would just be too good.
That would be as good as it would get for Rudi Garcia’s side in the first half, as Bayern set about tearing them apart. In a sense, the scene would be just like ancient Rome where the hapless victims would be thrown to the lions. If the opening goal was spectacular in its execution, the second would be nothing more than a masterpiece in close control. With twenty-three minutes gone Mario Götze would work his way towards the edge of the penalty area, collecting Thomas Müller’s smart back-heeled return pass before stroking the ball low into the bottom left-hand corner past the wrong-footed de Sanctis.
Just two minutes later the third goal would come. This time the attack would flow down the left, with Bernat’s pinpoint cross finished from close range by the unmarked Lewandowski.
Three would become four with Robben again beating the clueless Cole to power the ball in off the Roma ‘keeper, and if things were not bad enough for the home side a slightly harsh handball decision against Kostas Manolas would see the referee point to the penalty spot. Thomas Müller would make no mistake with a low right-footed drive that nestled in the bottom right-hand corner. Just like Germany against Brazil in the World Cup in July, Bayern would be five goals to the good against shellshocked opposition.
The second half would initially see the visitors take their foot off the pedal, and to their credit Roma would come out fighting. I Lupi would come close and create a number of excellent opportunities, but would be thwarted by an inspired Manuel Neuer. Each save would be better than the last, including an amazing moment where the Bayern ‘keeper would block a close range shot before spectacularly clawing it off the line.
Gervinho would finally give the home supporters something to cheer about with a sharp header from what was clearly an offside position, but this would only be a catalyst for Bayern to turn the screw once again. The closing twenty minutes would see a series of furious assaults on the Roma goals as substitutes Franck Ribéry, Shaqiri and Rafinha got in on the act. The Frenchman would score Bayern’s sixth with a glorious lob after some fine approach work from Lahm and the outstanding Robben, while Shaqiri would take the visiting Südkurve into seventh heaven with a well-taken strike from a tight angle after Rafinha’s well-struck effort had only been parried by the unfortunate de Sanctis.
Shaqiri would have a great chance to score an eighth goal before blasting over the crossbar, and the final statistics would show just how dominant Die Roten had been. While the previous games against Manchester City and CSKA Moscow had not seen possession turned into goals, this time everything would fall into place. Guardiola’s side would dominate with sixty-two percent of the possession, outgun their opponents by twenty-one shots to ten, and rack up a corner count of 6-2.
The 7-1 win would be Bayern’s biggest victory on the road in European competition, and take their total of goals scored to thirteen in their last two matches. With Manchester City and CSKA drawing 2-2 in Moscow the Bavarians are well clear in the group table with nine points from their three games, and another three points in the return against Roma at the Allianz Arena will seal top spot with two matches to spare.
UEFA Champions’ League Group Phase Week 3
Stadio Olimpico, Roma, 21.10.2014
AS Roma 1:7 (0:5) FC Bayern
Gervinho 66. / Robben 9., 30., Götze 23., Lewandowski 25., Müller pen 36., Ribéry 78., Shaqiri 80.
Roma: de Sanctis – Torosidis, Manolas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Cole (46. Holebas) – Pjanić (79. Ljajić), de Rossi, Nainggolan – Iturbe, Totti (c) (46. Florenzi), Gervinho
FC Bayern: Neuer – Benatia, Boateng, Alaba – Alonso – Robben, Lahm (c), Bernat – Müller (60. Rafinha), Götze (79. Shaqiri) – Lewandowski (68. Ribéry)
Yellow Cards: Torosidis, Nainggolan, Iturbe / Bernat
Originally published on the website of the Red Dragons London, the United Kingdom’s premier FC Bayern München fan club.
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