MUNICH (Reuters) - Bayern Munich pair Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have their “Robbery” double act back in full swing and the Bavarian side, who have scored 14 goals in their last two games, are once again one of the most potent attacking forces in Europe.
Few teams can cope with Bayern when their wingers are on song, especially with goal poacher supreme Mario Gomez, scorer of seven goals in his last two outings, lurking in the penalty area to finish off their runs.
The Allianz Arena goal celebration has been played out 14 times in the last two matches after Bayern hammered FC Basel 7-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday and Hoffenheim 7-1 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Leading 1-0 from a shock first-leg win in the round-of-16 tie, Basel had no clue how to deal with the duo, who took it in turns to pull the Swiss champions apart.
Left-footer Robben was a constant menace with his favourite tactic, picking up the ball on the right touchline before cutting inside and running at the heart of the opposing defence.
Teams know exactly what he is doing but few appear able to stop the injury-prone Dutchman, who has often been labeled selfish.
Frenchman Ribery does similar damage down the left flank although he often prefers to go on the outside, slipping to the byline before pulling the ball back into the centre.
That recipe provided three goals in 17 second-half minutes against Basel, all of them converted by Gomez, as Bayern surged into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 7-1 aggregate win.
The last five days may prove to have been the turning point for Bayern’s season, which had threatened to go down the drain after an indifferent run featuring defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Moenchengladbach as well as a goalless draw at lowly Freiburg.
“Maybe the team needed to have their backs to the wall to produce these performances,” said club president Uli Hoeness, who added that Basel’s poor pitch was partly to blame for the first-leg defeat.
Heynckes, in his third stint at the club, said that even during recent defeats Bayern had been playing good football.
For all their problems, Bayern are still in with a chance of a Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League treble, and will benefit from Bastian Schweinsteiger’s return from injury.
Heynckes has compared Schweinsteiger to Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
Bayern trail Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund by five points with nine games to go and face Moenchengladbach in the semi-finals of the German Cup next week.
Tuesday’s demolition of Basel put them into the quarter-finals of the Champions League and Bayern’s own stadium will host this year’s final.
Winning a fifth European title on home soil would be the perfect scenario for Germany’s biggest club. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)