Sleepy Bayern need to improve despite record win

Wed Nov 6, 2013 5:10am EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Bayern Munich reached the Champions League knockout stage with two games to spare and a record-equaling win but last season's treble winners know they will need to shake off their recent sleepy starts to repeat the success.

The Bavarians took a long time to get going against Viktoria Plzen in their 1-0 win on Tuesday and had to wait for more than an hour for Mario Mandzukic's winner against a team they had crushed 5-0 in Munich last month.

Bayern, who became the first German team to win the treble last season, are top of their Champions League Group D with four wins from four games. Manchester City are second on nine with CSKA Moscow in third place on three points.

Their win in Plzen meant Bayern posted their best group result after four matches with 12 points and 12 goals scored and just one conceded.

Bayern also equaled Barcelona's record of nine straight wins in the competition but narrow victories in the Bundesliga in the past few weeks and Tuesday's performance have rung alarm bells.

"We need to quickly make sure we do not oversleep in the opening stages of games as we have been doing in the last few weeks," Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said.

"We keep letting our opponents believe they can get something out of the matches. That cannot happen because this is the Champions League."

Bayern's narrow lead was tested a few times by the battling Czechs, who could have also snatched an unexpected equalizer late in the game.   Continued...

Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola (L) talks to Philipp Lahm during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Borussia Moenchengladbach in Munich August 9, 2013. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle