When any team scores five first half goals, it's a mark of complete domination. That was Bayern Munich on Tuesday as they thrashed FC Porto 6-1 in a stunning first half. I could spend thousands of words waxing eloquent on the way Bayern Munich pressed with intent and focus in the midfield, or the way in which Xabi Alonso turned from a being a playmaker into a human wrecking ball, or the way in which Mario Götze defended and played off Juan Bernat rather than the inverse. All of those factors contributed to Bayern Munich's amazing performance.
Despite all those performance highlights it was Philipp Lahm who was the most impressive. He's tactically brilliant and this game was another example of why Pep Guardiola often chooses him to run the team from midfield. Prior to the game, one of the key points I highlighted was how Bayern Munich were going to exploit the absence of the Porto starting fullbacks without having any wide players of their own, specifically noting the Juan Bernat and Rafinha needed to be hyper-agrressive. While Juan Bernat was all that and so much more for Bayern on the left, the right side was an entirely different story.
On the right, Guardiola parked Philipp Lahm on the touchline and barely moved him. There was little drifting inside and instead what Lahm did was pump in cross after throughout after cross for Bayern Munich from the wing. That strategy was all the more effective in that Bruno Martins Indi was deployed as the leftback. Nominally a centerback, Indi didn't move out or close down Lahm and left acres of space while Lahm and Rafinha toyed with Yacine Brahimi. That left Lahm with the time and space to pick out perfect crosses and read each attack before committing to a ball into the box.
That time became invaluable as Bayern worked possession from wing to wing quickly with Thiago splaying first touch passes wide in both directions, and having the continually present outlet of Lahm to relieve any Porto pressure in the midfield. It was a gamble as the numerical advantage Porto enjoyed in the midfield required both Thiago and Alonso to be astute and alert. Both of them pulled off their roles well and facilitated the advantage Bayern gained with Lahm on the wing.
With Bayern Munich having a devil of a time with injury at the moment, it was very reassuring to see that even with a severely depleted squad they could find a simple tactical solution to solve their biggest problem from the first leg against Porto.