Bayern's "Robbery" act back on song

Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have their "Robbery" double act back in full swing and the Bavarians, who have hit 14 goals in two games, are once again one of the most potent attacking forces in Europe.

Few teams can cope with Bayern when their wingers are on song especially with goal-poacher supreme Mario Gomez, scorer of seven goals in two outings, lurking in the penalty area to finish off their runs.

The Allianz Arena goal celebration, one of the most irritating in European football, has been played over the public address system 14 times in two matches after the Munich side unleashed their full attacking power on hapless Hoffenheim and Basel.

Following a goal, the natural roar of the crowd is instantly drowned out by a blast of rock music. The stadium announcer then gives the first name of the scorer, inviting the fans to reply with his surname.

"Thank you" shouts the announcer to which the crowd cry "You're welcome", an intended joke which wears pretty thin after it has been repeated two or three times.

Poor Hoffenheim had to endure the ritual seven times as they crashed 7-1 in the Bundesliga on Saturday and Basel, who believed that it could not happen to them as well, were thumped 7-0 in Tuesday's Champions League match.

Leading 1-0 from a shock first-leg win in the round-of-16 tie, Basel had no clue how to deal with Robben and Ribery who took it in turns to pull the Swiss champions apart.

Left-footer Robben was a constant menace with his favourite tactic, picking up the ball on the right touchline before cutting inside and running at the heart of the defence.

Teams know exactly what he is doing but few appear able to stop the injury-prone Dutchman who has often been labelled selfish.

Frenchman Ribery does similar damage down the left although he often prefers to go on the outside, slipping to the byline before pulling the ball back into the centre.

That recipe provided three goals in 17 second-half minutes against Basel, all of them converted by Gomez, as Bayern surged into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 7-1 aggregate win.

TURNING POINT

The last five days may prove to have been the turning point for Bayern's season which had threatened to go down the drain after an indifferent run featuring defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach as well as a goalless draw at lowly Freiburg.

"Maybe the team needed to have their backs to the wall to produce these performances," said club president Uli Hoeness who added Basel's poor pitch was partly to blame for the first-leg defeat.

Coach Jupp Heynckes, in his third stint at the club, said that even during recent defeats Bayern played good football.

For all their problems Bayern are still in with a chance of a Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League treble and will benefit from Bastian Schweinsteiger's return from injury.

Heynckes has compared Germany midfielder Schweinsteiger to Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

Bayern trail Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund by five points with nine games to go and face Monchengladbach in the semi-finals of the German Cup next week.

The Allianz Arena will also host this year's Champions League final.

Winning a fifth European title on home soil would be the perfect scenario for Germany's biggest and most drama-prone club, though neutrals will be hoping European football's ruling body UEFA at least ask them to change the music.