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Attacking versatility key to Bayern’s progress

"We were phenomenal," noted forward Thomas Müller after FC Bayern München took a scythe to FC Porto; UEFA.com's Jonathan Stockitt is inclined to agree.

FC Bayern München attacker Thomas Müller could not disguise his delight when asked for his thoughts on Tuesday evening's 6-1 thrashing of FC Porto. "We were phenomenal today," he said, and there would not be many inclined to disagree.

The Bavarians cruised into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals with a 7-4 aggregate victory, brushing the Portuguese outfit aside with an irresistible first-half display in which they hit five goals without reply.

In doing so they rendered irrelevant much of the pre-match narrative, which had centred on a below-par performance in the 3-1 first-leg defeat and a purportedly blunted attack in the absence of wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry. Yet although the teams' respective line-ups in Munich were similar to the sides fielded at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto last week, Bayern were unrecognisable.

"In the first leg there were gaps on the wings which we didn't make use of," said captain Philipp Lahm. "We addressed that today by playing me on the right and Mario [Götze] on the left."

Alonso: Better than best script
Alonso: Better than best script

The hosts' first three goals arrived from the flanks, with Juan Bernat teeing up Thiago Alcántara to head the opener with a cross from the left in the 14th minute, before Jérôme Boateng doubled their lead shortly afterwards, likewise scoring a header after Holger Badstuber had nodded a ball in from the right back across goal. Robert Lewandowski added a third just before the half-hour mark, finishing off after a well-worked move down the right. That triple salvo left Porto stunned, but Josep Guardiola's men were in no mood to ease off, scoring another three before the final whistle.

Bayern's tactical reshuffle also had Lewandowski and Müller in partnership in attack, and they were ruthless; Lewandowski scored twice and a Müller shot cannoned in off Porto's Bruno Martins Indi as the 2013 competition winners took control of the tie. "We were very lively up front and played a bit differently in terms of our positioning," Müller said. "That worked well for us today." Lewandowski was equally satisfied: "It was a crazy evening and we're really happy. We knew we'd have to be fully focused throughout and in the first half we were amazing."

Ominously for their opponents in the last four, Bayern could shift shape yet again prior to the semi-final first leg at the beginning of May, as Robben, Ribéry and Bastian Schweinsteiger are all nearing returns from injury, with the latter even an unused substitute against Porto. If a depleted Bayern squad can play this well, imagine what a full-strength ensemble would be capable of.

Thiago Alcántara celebrates putting Bayern in front
Thiago Alcántara celebrates putting Bayern in front©AFP/Getty Images
Jérôme Boateng rises highest to make it 2-0 in the 21st minute
Jérôme Boateng rises highest to make it 2-0 in the 21st minute©Getty Images
Philipp Lahm urges on his Bayern team-mates
Philipp Lahm urges on his Bayern team-mates©AFP/Getty Images
Robert Lewandowski wheels away after making it three
Robert Lewandowski wheels away after making it three©AFP/Getty Images
Josep Guardiola issues instructions to his Bayern players
Josep Guardiola issues instructions to his Bayern players©Getty Images
Thomas Müller enjoys the moment after Bayern's deflected fourth
Thomas Müller enjoys the moment after Bayern's deflected fourth©Getty Images
Robert Lewandowski made it five for Bayern with his second of the night
Robert Lewandowski made it five for Bayern with his second of the night©Getty Images

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