Thiago Alcantara of Bayern Munich celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their Champions League match against Arsenal at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany on Wednesday. Photo: ICThe German media poured praise on Carlo Ancelotti's Bayern Munich on Thursday after their 5-1 drubbing of Arsenal allowed the Italian to step out of Pep Guardiola's shadow.
"Big Bayern," "The Red Rush" and "Respect, Bayern" were the headlines here after the Bundesliga leaders dominated Tuesday's Champions League's last-16 first-leg clash.
Bayern extended their Champions League record run to 16 home wins by putting Arsene Wenger's Arsenal to the sword with three goals in 10 magical second-half minutes.
Arjen Robben's early goal was canceled out by an Alexis Sanchez penalty, converted at the second attempt, as it finished 1-1 at the break.
Bayern hit top gear in the second-half with attacking midfielder Thiago Alcantara, whose performance Ancelotti dubbed "perfect," leading the charge with two goals.
Robert Lewandowski restored Bayern's lead by outleaping the Arsenal defense on 53 minutes and 178 seconds later, his flick put Thiago behind the defense to make it 3-1.
The Spanish midfielder then banged home, via a deflection, from outside the area to effectively slam the door shut on Arsenal's quarterfinal hopes.
Thomas Mueller simply completed the rout two minutes from time with a fifth goal off the bench.
As Bayern captain Philipp Lahm put it, "Before the penalty, we were very good, up until halftime we weren't really good, but after that we were sensational."
Bild awarded Robben, Lewandowski and Thiago top marks, but arguably the biggest winner was Ancelotti.
Bayern's performance allowed him at least a step out of the shadow of predecessor Guardiola.
Bayern raised their game when it mattered, shaking off below-par German league performances to hit top gear.
"A horse jumps only as high as it needs to," wrote Munich-based TZ.
"Against the Gunners, the Red steed had to leap. And it leapt, like Ancelotti said it would."
Bild pointed out, "Ancelotti has found his first-choice team" with the same lineup which floored nearest challengers RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga in December.
Despite scoring, Mueller was a casualty on Bayern's big night.
As ex-Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus pointed out, there is no room for misfiring Mueller in Ancelotti's vision for Bayern.
The Germany star, who netted 20 league goals last season, has hit just one in 2016-17.
He is so far having a season to forget and replaced Lewandowski for the last four minutes.
"When Mueller's fit, he plays," insisted Guardiola during his three years, but Ancelotti's first-choice is different.
With Douglas Costa on the left wing, Robben on the right and attacking midfielder Thiago feeding Lewandowski, there is no starting place for homegrown superstar Mueller.
"Ancelotti has decided for Thiago, and against Mueller, for the No.10 role and with that, done everything right," enthused magazine Kicker.
Die Welt agreed that "Carlo Ancelotti has found his Bayern boss" in Thiago.
Behind Sir Alex Ferguson and Wenger, Ancelotti is the third-most experienced coach in the Champions League's history and oversaw his 148th European game on Wednesday.