Pep Guardiola's men refused to reach for the superlatives even after a night when they turned Manchester City into also-rans
"I'm very, very satisfied," said the Bayern Munich president before leaving the Etihad, beaming with pride. Uli Hoeness, who is widely credited with inventing the low-key, after-match statement in Germany – he has routinely criticised his team after wins and praised them after disappointing results over the course of 30 years – was only briefly able to resist the superlatives on Wednesday night.
Was it a demonstration of Bayern's might, someone inquired. "These kind of political, militaristic words have no place in football," replied Hoeness, 61, in the stadium's mixed zone, a corridor crammed with players' wives and buggies, reporters, and the odd bad-tempered cook. "We have a very good team and a very good coach. They work together very well, and that's what follows from that."
He could not play down Bayern's result and performance for long, though. "For 80 minutes this was a football that I have rarely seen in my life, against a team of the same standard," he said. "It was amazing how we passed the ball around."
He was no longer "surprised" by his team, Hoeness added, but their showing away to one of Europe's better sides had been "incredible" – 10 shaky minutes at the end after Alvaro Negredo's goal and Jérôme Boateng's red card aside. "It would have been [crazy] if we had drawn this game, we should have been five or six up by that time," he said.
Pep Guardiola, the mastermind of this "lesson in football" (Der Spiegel), was less enthralled. "There's a lot to improve," said the 42-year-old. "Our dead-ball situations were terrible." Few others had noticed.
Later that night, Guardiola cut a more relaxed figure at the Bayern banquet at The Lowry hotel. The Spaniard had passed the first big international test of his reign with flying colours. Attempts to stoke up more controversy about a possible difference of opinion between his captain Philipp Lahm and the sporting director Matthias Sammer – the latter had criticised Bayern's "emotionless" performance against Hannover (2-0) in the league three weeks ago – appeared somewhat desperate in the light of "City's dismantling" (Abendzeitung). That topic, if it ever was one, is now over. At half past midnight, Lahm and Sammer embraced.
The chairman of the board, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, praised a "classy" performance. "We're all spoilt from last season, but this was a feast for the eyes." The fears that had crept in during the summer about Pep's revolution being too brutal and swift have given way to hope that the new manager might make Bayern play even better. "If you continue like that, I'm convinced we'll have one or two other things apart from wine on the table come the end of the season," Rummenigge said.
It's hard to tell whether Guardiola has subtly toned down his tactical ideas to make them fit reality more closely – he recently described the Bundesliga as "counter-attacking country", where preventing quick transitions is "the most important thing" – or if the team are just better able to implement his complex combination of smart positioning and manic pressing. Hoeness was reluctant to divulge too many details.
Just like their perfectionist coach, the Bayern players did not seem all that impressed with their performance. "We played quite well," said Thomas Müller. "We know that we can play a lot better still," mused Manuel Neuer. The keeper warned that it was "important not to fall prey to arrogance when you keep the ball for three minutes and the crowd are shouting Olé! That's when you make mistakes, and get punished. We saw that tonight."
The one thing this team get excited about is their own ultra-professional unexcitability. Lahm was the only player who looked rather delirious as he sat at his table, staring into space. He had needed four beers to help him provide a doping sample.