Bayern Munich may have set a German record for the quickest Champions League knockout stage qualification with a 2-0 win over AS Roma on Wednesday but coach Pep Guardiola thinks his team are yet to hit top form.
Bayern cruised through to the round of 16 in Europe’s premier club competition with their fourth win in four Group E games and two games to spare.
Unbeaten in 16 consecutive matches in all competitions this season, Bayern have let in just one goal in the Champions League, fittingly in their 7-1 record away win in Rome.
“No, not yet,” Guardiola, in his second season at Bayern, told reporters when asked if this team was now matching his expectations.
“We are playing better than last year but we have to improve,” said Guardiola, who won the domestic double with Bayern in his first season in charge.
“Obviously we are playing better. We talk a lot, we have a lot of meetings, but we can always improve, always, always.”
Guardiola said at the start of the season that his team, sprinkled with more than a dozen internationals, would need time after the World Cup disrupted their preparations.
“I did not expect to be in this position after the World Cup,” Guardiola said. “The players are always eager to play.”
The Bavarians were never threatened by Roma and scored once in each half through Franck Ribery and Mario Goetze.
This was Ribery’s second start of the season following a lengthy injury absence.
“He is playing better and better. He gets into the game much better and his cooperation is outstanding,” the Spaniard said.
“We want to improve and the players who are not getting too much time need to step up to the plate now. We cannot relax.”
Among the players he will need to find a replacement for quickly is versatile David Alaba, who suffered a knee ligament injury and could be out for some time.
“We need to remain focused. We see the problems and we have to solve them now,” Guardiola said.