Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich lay down gauntlet with ruthless victory over Benfica

Max Parsons
Bayern were at their roaring best
Bayern were at their roaring best / TOBIAS SCHWARZ/GettyImages
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Bayern Munich are by no means perfect. Like any other side, they have their weaknesses and, admittedly, those frailties are fairly blatant.

Defensively, there is a lot to improve upon. When you attack like they do, however, who actually needs to be completely perfect?

Tuesday night gave Die Roten the opportunity to secure progression to the Champions League knockout phase with two games to spare in Group E. Their opposition were their closest challengers, although they looked anything but challengers on the night.

Julian Nagelsmann's men made no mistake in getting the three points they needed, putting on an exhibition of pure attacking class and ruthlessness to blitz Benfica.

What was clear, however, was the need for improvements at the back. The visitors put the ball in the net three times - two stood - and on each occasion, the goal was avoidable. It is true that Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez were absent from the lineup, but both strikes were born out of incompetence from regular first-team names: Benjamin Pavard and Dayot Upamecano.

It's undoubtedly an area that will be looked at by Nagelsmann. But for all the frustration at the back, Bayern fans were gifted a feast of absolute perfection going forward.

From the unwaveringly positive pressing to the silky and measured ball retention, and from the blistering build-up play to the invariable conclusion in front of goal - Bayern were unstoppable.

The midfield partnership of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka was typically dominant, with the latter running around doggedly and impactfully while allowing the former to hold an irreplaceable influence on proceedings.

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Joshua Kimmich was a standout for Bayern Munich on Tuesday night / TOBIAS SCHWARZ/GettyImages

Their tenacity, drive and match-dictating precision from deep were matched by the sharpness of Bayern's wide men. Kingsley Coman was frighteningly direct from the outset, weaving his way through the Benfica back line on several occasions before setting up the opening goal.

Leroy Sane, although not as directly dangerous, showed fantastic spatial awareness and movement before getting a goal of his own in emphatic fashion - assisted by Alphonso Davies who, on his 21st birthday, was just as dynamic and prominent going forward as ever.

Serge Gnabry was also on the scoresheet, capping off an efficient, elusive and primarily playmaking performance with a stunningly taken back-heeled finish in the first half.

Robert Lewandowski, of course, was central to the goals. The enigmatic Pole marked his 100th Champions League outing with a hat-trick, even grabbing an assist to put the cherry on top. The first was a simple header, the second a cheeky dink over the goalkeeper and the third a nonchalant lob. The fact he squandered a penalty will likely go unnoticed, in all honesty.

Five goals of varying styles. Bayern displayed patience in their build-up before playing astounding killer passes (mostly the work of Kimmich), aggression and speed from wide, untraceable movement in and around the box, and counter-attacked to perfection when possible on Tuesday night - with the outcome to offensive phases being decided by confident and clinical forward players throughout.

There was everything imaginable in their play going forward; there is no limit to their attacking capabilities.

They may be open at the back courtesy of their aggressive press and high back line, they may be prone to the odd lapse in concentration, and they will likely concede goals to their fellow elite European clubs.

However, it's safe to say that no one attacks like Bayern Munich - they are simply petrifying. Die Roten have been thunderous for some time now and, following another rout of their opposition on Tuesday to seal a place in the round of 16, Bayern have laid down the gauntlet.

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