By Karolos Grohmann
REUTERS – Bayern Munich’s 5-1 demolition of Arsenal in the Champions League on Wednesday is a reminder that the Germans are holding nothing back in their pursuit of a sixth European crown.
“We cannot play to draw,” said captain Philipp Lahm. “We have to be stepping on the gas all the time.”
Their relentless style, which also saw Bayern win their first 10 Bundesliga matches before last week’s draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, was evident once more in the Allianz Arena as they brushed Arsenal aside.
First-half goals from Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller and David Alaba left Arsenal rocking before Arjen Robben delivered the knockout punch with less than an hour played.
Arsenal pulled one back through Olivier Giroud with 20 minutes left but Mueller restored Bayern’s four-goal lead in the last minute.
The victory was even more impressive given that Arsenal are the only team to beat Bayern this season and the English side came into the game having won their last five league matches.
The German champions’ 2-0 loss in London last month, their first defeat in all competitions, even sparked talk of a mini crisis but that chatter was proved ill-founded in the opening 45 minutes on Wednesday.
The win took Bayern top of Group F on nine points along with Greece’s Olympiakos, with Dinamo Zagreb and Arsenal both on three.
“Now what we want to do is wrap it up in our next game and not leave it longer,” said Lahm. “It is in our own hands and we will go out to win the last two group games as well.”
Bayern could be even stronger by the time they host the Greek champions on Nov. 24, with Robben, Medhi Benatia and Holger Badstuber returing to full fitness. The latter was in the squad for the first time since April while Robben and Benatia came on as second-half substitutes.
Franck Ribery is also working his way back to fitness and coach Pep Guardiola has a squad brimming with confidence as he looks for the first Champions League title in his third season at the club.
“We had a good first half but not as controlled in the second half because we always want to play full throttle. This is how this club plays,” Guardiola said.
“Now we want to beat Olympiakos and secure top spot in the group. When we are at home then we are a better team. We are almost in the knockout stage and that’s what matters.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)