"I'll never be as good as Messi," Mario Gomez told UEFA.com after a four-goal salvo against FC Basel 1893, with Franck Ribéry adding: "We're FC Bayern München and we have no fear."
Article top media content
Striker Mario Gomez refused to get carried away despite scoring four goals as FC Bayern München demolished FC Basel 1893 7-0 to steam into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
The mammoth scoreline, a record margin of victory for the knockout stages, capped off a remarkable round of 16 in which FC Barcelona also struck seven in their second-leg success against Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Lionel Messi scored a record five in that game, a feat Gomez came mighty close to matching as he took his tally to ten goals in this season's competition – two short of the superstar Argentinian.
"I'll never be as good as Messi and I'd never try to be," a typically modest Gomez told UEFA.com. "He's a completely different player to me. I don't see him as a peer. I see him as the ultimate footballer."
High praise from the 26-year-old frontman, who nonetheless provided Europe's elite with a timely reminder of his own penalty-box prowess as Bayern reannounced themselves as serious title contenders.
Germany's last remaining representative have notched a staggering 14 goals in their last two outings after beating TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 7-1 in the Bundesliga at the weekend, though Gomez warned fans not to expect the goal rush to continue at quite the same rate. "We wanted to play like we did on Saturday, but we know we're not going to score seven every game," he said. "What was important tonight was the way we played and that was very good."
Arjen Robben, who opened and closed the scoring against the Swiss Super League leaders, felt the performance showed Bayern were finally nearing their best form following weeks of inconsistency. "Saturday was really good but today was even better," said the winger. "Obviously it's a lot of fun at the moment. There's been a steady improvement in the team over the last two or three weeks and we've really played to our potential in the last two games."
Amid all the elation in the catacombs of the Fußball Arena München, it was easy to forget that Bayern had gone into the match under considerable pressure having lost the first leg 1-0. "The goals before the break were important as they helped settle our nerves," said Thomas Müller, who hit the Bavarians' second on 42 minutes to turn the tie in their favour.
Birthday boy Holger Badstuber – 23 – laid on Gomez's first of the night shortly afterwards, though the forward's next three were all supplied by the superb Franck Ribéry. The Frenchman dazzled on the left with weaving runs and pinpoint crosses yet insisted that individual displays were secondary to that of the team: "Tonight was important for us players as well as the club and the fans."
With their shaky domestic form all but forgotten, Bayern are now eagerly anticipating Friday's draw for the last eight. "There are a lot of great sides in the quarter-finals," added Ribéry. "But if we can play like we did tonight then it doesn't matter who we face. We're FC Bayern München and we have no fear."