Thomas Müller and Hansi Flick know a thing or two about big knockout-stage performances.
In summer 2014, when Müller’s strike set Germany on their way to a 7-1 thrashing of Brazil in Belo Horizonte in the World Cup semifinal, Flick was sat on the bench as Joachim Löw’s assistant.
On Friday night in Lisbon, Müller again opened the scoring as Bayern put Barcelona to the sword, winning 8-2 to progress to the Champions League semifinal for the sixth time in eight years.
Neither Müller nor Flick wanted to hear about comparisons with Brazil, but the similarities were impossible to ignore.
This Bayern Munich performance, particularly in the first half hour, was characterized by the same tireless harrying of the opposition, the same precision of passing in transition, the same physical superiority, the same merciless finishing.
First Müller, finishing off after a delicate one-two with Robert Lewandowski, then Ivan Perisic, then Serge Gnabry, then Müller again, the latter three at intervals which almost had you rubbing your eyes to check they weren’t replays. It was just as absorbing, just as awe-inspiring. For Müller, even better than Brazil.
“In Brazil, we didn’t have the game as under control as we did tonight,” he said. “Tonight we wanted to dominate the opponent with our style. And we were brutally dominant.” And incredibly, despite leading 4-1 at half-time, the best was yet to come.