"Football is not art. But there is an art to playing good football." Ajax and Dutch legend Ruud Krol was not wrong when he said that and Bayern's 5-0 victory against Hannover 96 was certainly evidence of that art.
Winning in football is the ultimate but losing in style is equally admired, if not equally rewarded. The combination of both is often attempted but rarely successful. Most teams lack the collective ability to win beautifully. Then again, most teams are not even concerned by the how. Most teams want to just win.
Winning certainly isn't enough for FC Bayern München, a club stacked in history and trying to compete in Europe's elite with the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid. They may well be ahead financially speaking but most fans don't scream, shout and cry every week about a healthy looking balance sheet. It's what happens on the pitch that matters and of late, Bayern have dipped in form. This is of course, relatively speaking. Having started the season at breakneck speed and, having realised it isn't possible for them to win every game, Bayern have maybe taken their foot off the gas a little.
Scraping through the Champions League group stage has not done much to convince their fans (or their competition for that matter) that they can go one better than last season. Domestically, a fortunate away draw against 1. FC Nürnberg has done nothing but raise more questions about the capability of Heynckes' squad. Hannover 96 at home were, statistically speaking, the perfect antidote. Bayern's opponents have not won in Munich in six years and their manager, Mirko Slomka, a man recently linked with the Bayern job, has never won in Munich in his entire managerial career.
With the best shot to goal ratio in the Bundesliga, Hannover had the confidence to truly test Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal. Fortunately for Bayern, their opponents struggled to find the confidence that so often eludes them away from home and Heynckes' men eased to a 3-0 lead by halftime. Javi Martinez opened his account with an impressive overhead kick before Toni Kroos, who was falling away from the ball, then executed a gorgeous volley to double Bayern's lead from just inside the area. The in-form and terrifying Franck Ribery curled in a third after a delicious first touch to add even more beauty to the masterpiece. This truly was beautiful football and quite magnificently, it started to get even better.
The celebration for first club goals continued as Dante got in the act just after the hour mark. A powerful header from the Brazilian was followed up by a scripted goal from substitute Mario Gomez. His home return was greeted with huge applause and seconds after coming on, Bayern's number 33 added even more gloss to the scoreline. There was no lack of match practice about his curling effort past Zieler after he got the better of Karim Haggui. It was a beautiful goal. 14 seconds after stepping onto the field, he had scored his first of the season and Bayern led by 5-0, a scoreline that remained unchanged.
Bayern had delivered and how. Javi Martinez was superb both on and off the ball, Franck Ribery had terrorised yet another Bundesliga defence and Thomas Müller had produced 75 minutes of perfect wing play. This is what winning in style is. Even after the fifth goal, every misplaced pass was met with a frustrated groan from the fans as they bayed for more than just blood. Winning in style is about making a statement, producing a product, believing in a philosophy. Bayern did that perfectly today and it sets them up perfectly for next week's showdown against Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern München: Neuer - Alaba, Dante, Badstuber, Lahm - Martinez, Schweinsteiger (70' Tymoshchuk) - Ribery, Kroos, Müller (75' Shaqiri) - Mandzukic (66' Gomez)
Hannover 96: Zieler - Rausch, Eggimann, Haggui, Cherundolo - Huszti, da Silva Pinto, Schmeidebach (41' Schulz), Stindl - Diouf (79' Nikci), Sobiech (46' Abdellaoue)
Goals: 1-0 Martinez (3'), 2-0 Kroos (24'), 3-0 Ribery (37'), 4-0 Dante (63'), 5-0 Gomez (67')
Referee: Felix Zwayer