Although the latest edition of the UEFA Champions League is still in its embryonic stage, an idea of who will be at the sharper end of the competition is beginning to form and of those likely names to reach the knockout phase, one of those will surely be Bayern Munich.
As the current holders of European club football’s richest prize, the challenge is how to defend such an honour this time around and on the evidence of their first three outings of the season, they are certainly going about things the right way.
That’s because the Bavarian giants currently find themselves top of Group A and due to picking up maximum points up to and including Matchday 3, they have a comfortable five-point lead over Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in second.
While it was Atletico Madrid, who provided the first Champions League opposition of the season for Hans-Dieter Flick’s men and when you consider the team from the Spanish capital are largely defensive, their resolve was blown away by the red machine.
A 4-0 win at the Allianz Arena can only be described as a warning shot to the rest of Europe and with them making such light work of one of Europe’s most feared sides, this was a statement of intent from the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller
Admittedly Bayern did not have it all their own way in their outing that followed and a trip to Moscow to face Lokomotiv, was one that proved to be more difficult than they and everyone else imagined it would be.
However, this is a team that can not only blow teams away but also dig in when it matters and with Lokomotiv equalising with 20 minutes to go, this had the potential hallmarks of what is known as a coupon buster in the betting industry.
Then again, you must always write off Bayern at your own peril and with Joshua Kimmich scoring the eventual winner 11 minutes from the end, there was to be no stuttering from the defending champions in the Russian capital.
When it comes to winning the Champions League, it is not all about the glitz and glamour but also grit and determination and because of Bayern possessing both elements of the game, you would be hard-pressed to bet against them defending their current title as kings of the continent.
To the point where Bayern are already at Intertops as the favourites to win this season’s competition and with all the attacking talent that they have at their disposal, this could be one of the safest bets you could make in quite a while.
While it was their attacking talent that was on display in Matchday 3, as they eventually blitzed past Red Bull Salzburg in a game that saw no less than eight goals scored, although unfortunately for the Austrian’s they conceded six of them.
Even though the host side went ahead in the first minute through Mergim Berisha, it only served to wake the German visitors from their early slumber and by half-time Bayern would go into the interval leading by two goals to one.
Of course, this was not a game without drama and the Austrian Bundesliga champions were certainly not lying down without a fight, as Masaya Okugawa’s strike leveled the game at 2-2 on 66 minutes.
Then again, if the opening goal of the game woke Bayern up, this equaliser only served to make them angry and even though there was only 24 minutes left on the clock, they still found the time to score four unanswered goals.
Another emphatic win and one that suggests that if you try to poke this bear, it will lash out and as we witnessed last season when they beat Tottenham 7-2, they can break a team’s spirit in double quick time.
With the top two teams progressing to the knockout phase and the Round of 16, Bayern already have one foot in this part of the competition and they will look to make sure of this when they play host to Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday November 25th.
If that’s the case, they can rest and rotate players for the final two group stage fixtures and even if there is wholesale change, that does not suggest Bayern will be any weaker in terms of who actually takes to the field.
With quality in every position and more importantly, quality that can be drafted in from the other members of the squad, this is group of players who look set to go all the way once again and that means conquering the Champions League in 2021.