Bayern Munich officially stamped its place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with their 5-2 win over SL Benfica at the Allianz Arena. A hat-trick from Robert Lewandowski and goals from Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane secured yet another three points for Die Roten, leaving the goals from Morato and Darwin Núñez to be mere consolations for the Portuguese outfit. It was another statement win from Bayern, who do really look the team to beat in Europe at the moment.
It was Julian Nagelsmann’s first match back on the sidelines for Bayern, having missed out on the last four matches due to testing positive for the coronavirus after the 5-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen last month. During his quarantine period, he was in communication with his coaching staff during matches from his makeshift kitchen setup with laptops, iPads, and large screen monitors. Speaking after the win over Benfica, Nagelsmann expressed his delight to back with the squad and coaching staff and back in a more full Allianz Arena for the first time this season (tz). “It was fun to watch, I told the boys that too. The two goals we conceded are very unfortunate, the one according to a standard, we discussed that differently. But it was an incredibly good game for us, very good control and a high pace of play. My first game with more viewers in a long time. At some point in my 70th I said: nice that more people are there and you don’t have to watch it on TV,” he explained.
Leroy Sane scored a sensational goal and also provided an assistant during the win in what was yet another solid display from the winger. It wasn’t so long ago that Sane was getting whistled by Bayern fans inside the Allianz Arena during the Bundesliga match against FC Köln, but Nagelsmann reiterated just how much his winger has turned a corner for the better, as was on display against Benfica. “Outstanding, goal preparation, goal. In the first half he initiated a counterattack and played three players on his own sixteen. What happened after Cologne when he was whistled. Now he has moments that the audience would like to see. He plays incredibly well and I think he played his most active game today,” he said.
Sane’s sensational goal is below:
SUPERB TECHNIQUE BY LEROY SANE pic.twitter.com/REySrhFymX— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) November 2, 2021
Now that Bayern has officially qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, the “business” part of the competition now begins. For Bayern, the group stages is the easy part. Nagelsmann knows that other teams in the competition will be looking at Bayern’s impressive record thus far, chomping at the bit to beat them. Whoever they face in the round of 16 is going to be tough. There are no easy matches or formalities in the knockout stages. “They will have us on their radar, we have to confirm that. We have now qualified, a first good step, but the knockout games are just coming. There are a few other teams that are also good, we are one of them,” Nagelsmann stressed.