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Football | Champions League

Bayern set sights on elusive final victory



Bayern Munich's sparkling 3-1 victory at Arsenal in their Champions League round of 16 first leg on Tuesday confirmed the German side's focus is firmly set on making amends for two final defeats in the last three years.

Bayern will be hoping their trip to London was not the last this season with the Champions League final being held in the English capital in May.

"This was a superb performance, a top game from us," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said early on Wednesday as the team gathered in their London hotel. "Although we still have to have a lot of respect for the second leg in March.

"But we have taken a big step. If we do not get distracted - and I believe we will not - then this could be a long run we have a ahead of us."

Where other teams may have buckled under they weight of unfulfilled expectations after losing finals in Madrid in 2010 and more importantly last year in their home stadium, Bayern look to have become even stronger.

A string of good transfers in the off-season, including holding midfielder Javi Martinez, who has formed an efficient partnership with Bastian Schweinsteiger, and top-scorer Mario Mandzukic have added considerable depth to their squad.

They have now won all six of their games this year, dominating each one from the start.

SECOND FIDDLE

With a 15-point cushion in the league and the domestic title all but sewn up, Bayern have the luxury of switching their focus to winning the European title for first time since 2001.

In the past two seasons, Bayern have been forced to play second fiddle to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

This campaign, the Bavarians have led from the front and maintained their purpose despite the possible distraction of securing the services of the highly sough-after former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola for next season.

"Obviously we are getting more and more confident but we still need to win every game," Rummenigge said.

"We should not think too far ahead because the Champions League does not allow for mistakes. We are still in the round of 16 and there is some way to go, so let's be patient."

With only one goal conceded in their last six games and their two-season title drought seemingly set to end in May, Bayern look well-equipped for the return leg on March 13.

"This was a texbook performance in the first half. I have not seen a Bayern team that has played as good as we did in the first half hour," club boss Uli Hoeness said as he heaped praise on his players.

"We still have a lot to do until (the final). But right now I am dreaming only of the quarterfinals," Hoeness added

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